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VttacpftTa rubH« LH>r®if 

4)ovl« of Bcfiiia} 



The Second World War 
and Indian Nationalism 


^"The Publication of the thesis was financially supported by the 
Indian Council of Historical Research ; and, 

""The responsibility for the facts stated, opinions expressed or 
conclusions reached is entirely that of the author and the 
Indian Council of Historical Research accepts no 
responsibility for them/* 

MANAS, 1975 

The Quit India Movement ; The Second World War and Indian 

Published by 

Manas Publications, New Delhi- 1 10016. 

Printed in India by Satish Composing Agency 
at Well Print. Delhi. 

To Afy Parents 

Late Nakul Cband Bhuya. 

Late Kumudeswari Bhuyai 


This study traces the development of the Indian nationalist 
movement during the period of the Second World War. This 
period constitutes a watershed not only in the history of world 
politics, but also in that of the national liberation movements 
in Asia. In India, particularly, the war accelerated the growth ot 
political consciousness, and national movement as independence 
became the central point of Iftdian politics. The Congress 
came forward with the Quit India demand which, with the 
arrest of the national leaders, was followed by a mass upheaval 
on a very wide scale. 

The Government of India has recently opened all the 
official papers relating to the 1942 movement which I could 
consult at the National Archives. I have also had the oppor- 
tunity to see the Gandhi Papers in the Gandhi Smarak Nidhi, 
New Delhi and the Nehru Papers and the Proceedings of All 
India Congress Committee in the Nehru Memorial Museum and 
Library, New Delhi The recent publication ofsomcofihe 
volumes of The Transfer of Power 1942-7, edited by Professor 
Nicholas Mansergh and E.W.R. Lumb> (Assistant Editor) and 
published by Her Majesty’s Stationery Olhce, London, has 
greatly facilitated my work. Most of the material in this series 
has not been published before It includes official and un- 
official correspondence between the Secretary of State for India 
and the Viceroy and the latter’s correspondence with the British 
Prime Minister, Prime Ministers of British Dominions, Pro- 
vincial Governors in India and Indian political leaders, the 
minutes of the War Cabinet and Governors’ reports. I have 
also utilized a good number of memoirs, autobiographies, 
biographies and collections of letters, speeches and statements 
ot the leading participants in the movement. 

During the course of my research, I benefited immensely 
from the advice of Professor Bimal Prasad, Dean, School of 


International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. 
Without his help and guidance this study probably would not 
have seen the light of the day. I remain ever grateful to him. 

I take this opportunity to express my thanks to Dr. M.S. 
Rajan, the then Director of the Indian School of International 
Studies (1968), who was largely responsible for providing me an 
opportunity to carry on this study. I wish to acknowledge my 
gratitude to the Government of Assam for granting me three 
and a half years’ study leave to complete this research project. 

For various reasons I am indebted to Dr. (Mrs.) Urmila 
Phadnis and Dr. Anirudha Gupta, Associate Professors, 
Jawaharlal Nehru University, Dr. Francis G. Hutchins, 
Assistant Professor, Harvard University, S.K. Jha, A.B. Sawant, 
A.H. Molla, Dr. G. Goswaoi, Dr. R.K. Perti, S. Ansari, 
Miss J. Barbarua, Miss A. Dutta and to a host of my friends 
who took lively interest in this work. 

Last but not the least, I am grateful to the stalT of the 
Sapru House Library, National Archives, Nehru Memorial 
Museum and Library and Gandhi Memorial Museum, New 
Delhi, for their co-operation and assistance. 

Arun C. Bhuyan 


Preface viii 

1. The Congress and the War Issue ... 1 

1 . The Quit India Demand and the British 

Reaction ... 33 

V The Mass Upsurge ... 64 

I. The Underground Resistance Movement ... 103 

>. Gandhi's Fast and After ... 144 

\ Impact in India and Abroad ... 182 

^ Conclusion ... 219 

Appendix ... 227 

Bibliography ... 241 

Index ... 255 



'Y'HE outbreak of the Second ^orld War in the first week of 
September 1939 was neither a sudden nor an unexpected 
event. Since 1936 the international situation had been fast 
deteriorating. It became alarming after the Munich crisis, and 
the Nazi annexation of Czechoslovakia made a war between 
Germany and Britain almost inevitable. Already the world 
was divided into two blocs, the Allied and the Axis powers. 
In spite of professing different ideological shibboleths, both the 
blocs were essentially imperialist and colonialist in character. 
It was mainly for imperialist gains— either for acquiring them or 
for preserving them— that they got involved in this world-wide 

Apparently, the Indian National Congress, the premier 
political organization in the country, was aware of these inter- 
national developments. It also knew that, as in the First 
World War, Britain might entangle India in any future conflict. 
The Congress remembered the dividends received by India after 
active participation in the First World War. After the Jallian- 
walla Bagh and the Rowlatt Acts, it could scarcely ignore the 
fact that India’s participation in the war hinged on the issue of 
her independence. 

Enunciating India’a peaceful intentions as well as expres- 
sing its unwillingness to participate in any war, the Congress 
had stated, as early as 1927, that India had no quarrel with its 
neighbours and she wanted to live at peace with them. Tlje 



Indian people had the right to decide whether to participate in 
any war. If the British Government tried to involve India in 
any warlike adventure, it would be the duty of the Indian 
people to resist it. The Congress was determined not to allow 
India to be exploited by Britain for its imperialist oBjectives.^ 
Such a resolution was again passed in 1928.- 

Soon after this the Congress became engrossed in the 
civil disobedience campaign which continued intermittently till 
1934. It could, consequently, pay little attention to inter- 
national problems. The same situation continued until 
Jawaharlal Nehru took over the Congress presidentship at 
Lucknow in 1936 when the Congress started showing keen 
interest in international issues. The Congress policies on war 
and other international issues were mainly formulated by Nehru. 
It was largely due to him that the Congress developed a strong 
dislike for the aggressive inteniions of the Fascist powers and 
veered round to support the causes of democracy and freedom 
as against the forces of Fascism, Nazism and imperialism. 

The Lucknow Congress (April 1936) affirmed its convic- 
tion that lasting peace could only be established with the 
removal of the underlying causes of war and cessation of the 
domination and exploitation of one nation by another. Appre- 
hending that in the event of such a war an attempt would in- 
evitably be made to drag in and exploit India for the benefit of 
British imperialism, the Congress reiterated its determination 
to oppose Indian participation in any imperialist war.^ 
This became a recurring theme of all the Congress sessions till 

Striving to obtain its main objective, i,e., India’s indepen- 
dence, the Congress followed a dual policy during 1936-39. It 
openly condemned the warlike activities of Italy, Germany and 

1 . Report of the Forty-Sccond Indian National Congress, Madras, 28»31 
December 1927 (Madras, n, d.), pp. 4-11. 

2. Report of the Forty^Third Indian National Congress, J928 (Calcutta, 
The Reception Committee, n.d.), p 95. 

3. Report of the Forty-Ninth Session of the Indian National Congress, 
Lucknow, 1936 (Allahabad, The All India Congress Committee, 1936). 
pp. 44-7. 

4. Bimla Prasad, The Origins of Indian foreign Policy (Calcutta, I960), 
pp. 138-43, 



Japan and expressed strong sympathy and moral support towards 
the victims of Fascist aggression such as Abyssinia, Palestine, 
Spain, China and Czechoslovakia. At the same time, the 
Congress repeatedly declared that India would join in any war 
against Fascism and Nazism only if she herself became inde* 
pendent. The Congress put both the Fascist and the imperialist 
powers at the same level Once imperialism, the root cause 
of conflict, was eliminated, Fascism would then automatically be 

On 1 May 1939 the All India Congress Committee re- 
affirmed its determination to oppose all attempts to involve 
India or to use Indian resources in such a war without the 
consent of the Indian people.^ As war seemed imminent 
following the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia, the Congress 
Working Committee warned in the second week of August 
1939, that it would not vvelcoflie any imposition of war on 
India. It did not approve of the policy of sending Indian 
troops to Middle East and Far East. As a protest, it called 
upon the Congress members of the Central Legislative Assembly 
to refrain from attending the next session. The Working Com- 
mittee further advised the Congress ministries in the provinces 
not to co-operate with the Government’s war efforl, and to 
remain prepared to lay down office, if the Congress policy led 
to this contingency.® 


These pronouncements of the Congress, representing 
nationalist opinion and sentiments, made little impact on the 
authorities. Immediately after the British declaration of war, 
on 3 September 1939, the Viceroy declared war on India’s 
behalf against the Axis powers. This was immediately followed 
by the promulgation of the Defence of India Ordinance which 
armed the Government with emergency powers of all kinds. 
Although constitutionally valid, the Viceroy’s action came as a 
rude shock to nationalist India, taking place as it did at a time 

5. The Indian National Congress^ 193^-10 (AH^bad, A.l.QC, n.d.), 
pp. lO-I. 




when, excluding the centre, the whole of British India (eleven 
provinces) was ruled by popular ministries. 

On 5 September 1939, Gandhi met the Viceroy and ex- 
pressed his moral sympathy towards the British.’ He^ however, 
made it clear that it was merely his personal opinion and that 
an authoritative statement of the Congress attitude towards the 
war issue could come only from its Working Committee. That 
Committee met at Wardha from 8 to 15 September 1939, under 
the presidentship of Rajendra Prasad. Eager to form a joint 
front against the Government, the Congress President even 
invited M.A. Jinnah, the Muslim League leader, to participate 
in the discussion. Jinnah declined the invitation. In order to 
express its displeasure at the way the Government had delibe- 
rately ignored Indian opinion, the CWC, as a first step, decided 
to call upon the Congress members of the Central Legislative 
Assembly to boycott the next session. Further, it reaffirmed 
that “the issue of war and peace for India must be decided by 
the Indian people and no outside authority can impo^^e this 
decision upon them...,” and that the Indian people would not 
permit their resources to be used for imperialist ends. 

The Working Committee took cognisance of the official 
British and French stance that the war was aimed to end 
aggression and safeguard freedom and democracy. But in view 
of the consistent divergence between explicit ideals and under- 
lying objectives, it demanded a clarification of the issues at the 
very beginning. If the war was to defend IhQ status quo^ 
imperialist possessions, colonies, vested interests and privileges, 
India could have nothing to do with it. But if Britain was 
really fighting for democracy, she must give up her imperial 
possessions and grant self-determination to India. A free 
democratic India would gladly associate herself with other free 
nations for mutual defence against aggression and for mutual 
economic co-operation, 

7. Gandhi told the Viceroy : “...1 could not contemplate without being 
stirred to the very depth, the destruction of London which had 
hitherto been regarded as impregnable. And as 1 was picturing before 
him the Houses of Parliament and the Westminster Abbey and their 
possible destruction, 1 broke down. I have become disconsolate.*’ 
N.N. Mitra, ed., The Indian Annual Register (Calcutta, n.d.), vol. 2, 
J939, p. 379, 


The Committee felt that conflict could not be resolved 
without liquidating imperialism, India was the crux of the 
problem, for she was not only the outstanding victim of modern 
imperialism but also a power whose vast resources could play 
a very important part in any scheme of world organization. 
The Committee, therefore, invited the British Government to 
declare in unequivocal terms what their war aims were with 
regard to democracy, imperialism and the new order that was 
envisaged ; and also to specify how these were going to apply 
to India and be implemented in the present.® 

The meaning of the statement was clear. In order to 
obtain India’s support, Britain should immediately grant her 
independence. The All India Congress Committee, meeting on 
9 and 10 October 1939, endorseAthe statement of the Working 
Committee. Leaving suflScient margin for possible negotiations, 
it stated its disinclination to take any decision precipitately 
and without giving every opportunity for the war and peace 
aims of the British Government to be clarified with particular 
reference to India.® 

Before replying to the Congress demand, the Viceroy 
thought it prudent to hold consultations with Indian leaders.^® 
The interviews that followed added some more weapons to bis 
armoury. In his opening gambit, on 17 October 1939, the 
Viceroy made the familiar imperialist move of stressing the 
“marked differences of outlook, markedly different demands, 
and markedly different solutions for the (existing) problems” 
which the interviews had revealed. On the question of war 
aims, he said : “The experience of all history shows in these 
circumstances the unwisdom and the impracticability of precise 
definition at so early a stage as that which we have now 
reached.” Echoing the British Prime Minister, he added that 
the British were not seeking from the war any material advan- 
tage for themselves. Their aim was to lay the foundation of a 
better international system which would ensure that war was 
not the inevitable lot of each succeeding generation. 

8. Congress and War Crisis (Allahabad, The All India Congresi Com- 
mittee, n.d.), pp. 14-9. 

9. Ibid, pp. 32-3. 

10. He interviewed 52 people. 



As regards the future status of India, the Viceroy stated 
that the British Government was still committed to the prin- 
ciple of Dominion Status. During the period of the war, how- 
ever, the Act of 1935 provided the best possible instrument for 
carrying on the tasks of Indian administration. After the end 
of the war consultations would be held with representatives of 
different sections of the Indian people to find out a satisfactory 
solution of the Indian constitutional problem. 

This statement disappointed the Congress. Gandhi was 
constrained to observe that while it had asked for bread, it had 
received a stone. The CWC directed the eight Congress Pre- 
miers to submit their resignations forthwith. The Congress 
was virtually committed to non-co-operation with the Govern- 
ment. The Congress members in the Central Legislature were 
forbidden to participate in the debates. Meanwhile, the Muslim 
League felt so happy at the exit of the Congress that it decided 
to observe 22 December 1939, as “a day of deliverance” and 
“thanksgiving” throughout India. The League’s action marked 
a further deterioration in Hindu-Muslim relations. 

Yet, the Congress did not want to go too far in its oppo- 
sition to the Government. It had dec'ded to follow the prin- 
ciple of non-embarrassment, and to withstand leftist pressures 
for precipitating the issue. Gandhi, to keep the party-members 
usefully occupied, appealed to them to take up the constructive 
programme more earnestly. He believed that only through this 
programme could unity and discipline be inculcated. According 
to him the four pillars of Swaraj were Hindu-Muslim unity, 
removal of untouchability, charkha and prohibition. 

The leftist parties, on the other hand, felt unhappy at this 
halting nature of the Congress leadership. Subhas Chandra 
Bose, the leader of the Forward Bloc, was particularly sceptical 
about the Gandhian tactics. He wanted concrete steps for 
starting a well-organized mass movement. The other two 
leftist parties, the Congress Socialist Party and the Communist 
Party, were also dissatisfied with the seeming vacillation of the 
Congress leadership. 

11. Statement issued by the Governor-General of India on 11 October 
\9S9 (London, His Majesty’s Office, 1939), cnid. 6121, p. 21. 



Taking note of the attitude adopted by the leftist parties, 
the Government decided not to threaten the Congress right- 
wing leadership by taking any action against it. As the 
Governor of the United PrQvinces told the Viceroy : “Every 
endeavour must be made to retain the sympathy of the Congress 
right-wing, every allowance must be made for their position, 
and advantage should not be taken of speeches and actions to 
which they may be driven to some extent against their wishes.”^- 
It showed the Government’s eagerness, for the time being, to 
strengthen the hands of Gandhi, who was following the policy 
of non-embarrassment in an honest way. 

Gandhi’s policy of going “so far and no further” led to a 
political deadlock in the country. During this time the Cong- 
ress press and platform were voicing persistent demands for 
Puma Swaraj ov com^XtiQ independence. The Congress was 
no longer attached to the Dominion Status. It described the 
war as imperialist and immoral in which both the Allied and 
the Axis powers shared the ambition for colonial possesions. 
Subjugation of the masses would not end with the termination 
of hostilities. The Congress case was placed on a high moral 
plane. The world was told that India’s political future was 
closely linked up with international issues. Accordingly the 
British Government was asked to pay the price of India’s help 
in the prosecution of the war. As time went on that price was 
raised to a higher level.^® The eventual price, of course, was 
complete independence. 

Meeting at Ramgarh for its annual Session in mid-March 
1940, the Congress was finally forced by circumstances to 
resolve that some kind of civil disobedience movement would be 
launched at a proper time under Gandhi’s leadership. The 
timing, strategy and nature of the movement would be deter- 
mined by him. 

Since Gandhi at that moment was not prepared to 
launch such a movement, the Congress resolution was really 
aimed at stealing the thunder from the leftists. The latter were 
quick to sense this. They immediately mounted pressure on 

12. Home Political File No. 3/11/40. National Archives, New Delhi. 

13« Home Political File No. 4/17/40. Intelligence Bureau's (Horn# 
Deparfinent) analysis on Congress attitude towards the war. 


the Congress leadership with a view to compelling the party to 
start a movement as soon as possible. 

As a true satyagrahiy Gandhi, however, felt ^convinced 
that he would resort to satyagraha only when it had become 
almost inevitable, and he was inspired by an inner urge to defy 
the authorities. Till then, he would negotiate with the autho- 
rities times without number, hoping to arrive at some possible 
compromise. Such was the logic of Gandhian strategy. 

Impatient of Gandhi’s hesitancy, the Communists thought 
that by prolonging he was spreading a defeatist mentality in the 
minds of Indians. Gandhism, they believed, had reached its 
last, and the most reactionary stage ; it had become the most 
disruptive, retrogressive and anti-struggle force. 

Meanwhile, the Congress and the Muslim League were 
heading towards a deadlock. While the Congress had never 
accepted the League as the sole representative body of the 
Muslims, the League treated the Congress as a Hindu organi- 
zation. A significant advance towards the deadlock was made 
in 1940 when the League resolved to make the achievement of 
“Pakistan” its main political objective. The League dec- 
lared^® : 

...that no constitutional plan would be workable in this 
country or acceptable to the Muslims unless it is designed 
on the following basic principle, viz., that geographically 
contiguous units are demarcated into regions which should 
be so constituted with such territorial readjustments as 
may be necessary that the areas in which the Muslims are 
numerically in a majority, as in the north-western and 
eastern zones of India, should be grouped to constitute 
‘independent states’ in which the constituent units should 
be autonomous and sovereign. 

“Baffled” by this change, Gandhi was quick to declare 
that “he would never be a willing party to the vivisection of 
India.”i® But the League meant business. In order to popu- 

14. Home Political File No. 37/46/40. 

15. Mitra, n. 7, vol. 1, 1940, pp. 311-4 The resolution was moved by 
Fazlul Haq and seconded by Choudhury Khaliquzzaman and many 

16. ‘ M.K. Gandhi, “A Baffling Situation*', Harijan (Ahmedabad), 6 April 




larise the ideal of Pakistan, Muslims were exhorted to observe 
19 April as the Muslim Independence Day.i’ 

The British Government took note of this uncompromis- 
ing attitude of the two major groups in Indian politics. In 
accordance with its old tradition, it put its accent on the pro- 
tection of the interests of the minorities as well as on the pre- 
servation of the unity of India. L.S. Amery, the Secretary of 
State for India, told the House of Commons that Hindu-Muslim 
differences seriously hindred the search for a solution to India’s 
constitutional problems. He believed : “India cannot be 
unitary.. .but she can still be a unity.”^® 

The fact of the matter was that the Government had no 
interest in bringing about a solution. Differences and mutual 
rivalry among the Indian parties enabled it to indefinitely pro- 
long the constitutional deadlock. * By excluding both the major 
parties, the British could well afford to run the war machinery 
without undue botheration and interference from any quarter. 

The embittered Hindu-Muslim relations made the whole 
atmosphere unconducive to a satyagraha movement. Gandhi 
almost decided to abandon the idea of a satyagraha^^ : 

If the British Government will not suo motu declare India 
a free country, having the right to determine her own 
status and constitution I am of the opinion that we should 
wait till the heat of the battle in the Allied countries sub- 
sides and the future is clearer than it is. We do not seek 
our Independence out of Britain’s ruin. That is not the 
way of non-violence. 

Gandhi now turned his full focus on the principle of non- 
violence. He even sent an appeal “To Every Briton” “to 
accept the method of non-violence instead of that of war for 
the adjustment of relations between nations”. At the end, he 
appealed to both the sides to cease hostilities. Gandhi’s insistence 
on the principle of non-violence soon led to a mini-revolt in the 
Congress party. Most of the Congress members accepted the 
doctrine of non-violence merely as a strategy or a policy. To 
Gandhi, non-violence was a creed, which he did not like to be 

17. Mitra, n. 7, vol. 1, 1940, p. 62. 

18. U.K., Commons, Parliamentary Debates, series 5, vol. 364, session 
1940, cols, 870-9. 

19. M.K. Gandhi. Harijan, 1 June 1940. 



diluted for practical necessity. He also desired this principle 
to be included in the future state policy framework of indepen- 
dent India. But the organization as a whole coulcf not make 
such a promise. Its leaders believed that adoption of non- 
violence as a state policy would jeopardize India’s national 
security and defence. The Congress, as its president, Abul 
Kalam Azad, pointed out, was a political organization with a 
political objective, and not a body for organizing world peace, 
Azad, however, expressed regret that the issue of violence and 
non-violence had been raised at that particular moment. The 
eWe would have preferred to postpone the consideration of it, 
but for Gandhi’s insistence that it should make its position 
clear, particularly after his appeal to the Britons. 2 ® The Cong- 
ress had not thrown non-violence over-board so far as the 
struggle for independence was concerned, but it could not give 
an undertaking not to resort to violence in all circumstances 
after independence was secured. Gandhi had no option but 
to withdraw from the leadership of the Congress. His request 
to be absolved from the leadership was acceded to by the CWC. 
The Congress appreciated Gandhi’s zeal and earnestness for 
the propagation of non-violence, but it decided not to go the 
vfhole hog in applying it in the international field. In time 
Gandhi appreciated the Congress position. ^2 

It is not possible for a large and popular organization 
like the Congress to be wholly non-violent for the simple 
reason that all its members cannot have attained the 
standard level of non-violence. But it is perfectly possible 
for some of its members who truly understand the implica- 
tions of pure ahimsa and observe it as the law of their 

Gandhi’s exit relegated to the background the question of 
starting satyagraha. In order to exhibit its pragmatism, the 
Congress again decided to offer conditional support to the 
Government. The proposal was first mooted by C. Raja- 
gopalachari. The CWC met at Delhi (3-7 July 1940). Referring 
to the grave situation threatening national security and defence, 

20 . Mitra, n. 7, vol. 2, 1940, p. 10. 

21. Home Political File No. 18/7/40, Fortnightly report, U.P., July 1940. 

22. M.K. Gandhi, Harijan, 1 Septchaber 1940, 


it declared that “...the acknowledgement by Great Britain of 
the complete Independence of India, on a future date (just after 
the war) would enable the Congress to throw in its full weight 
in the efforts for the effective organization of the defence of the 
country.” As an interim measure, the Committee suggested 
that for the time being a provisional National Government 
should be constituted at the centre. And that Government 
must have the authority to command the confidence of all the 
elected elements in the central legislature. Along with this, 
that Government also should secure the closest co-operation of 
the Responsible governments in the provinces. 

By oifering conditional support, the Congress almost 
shelved for the time being its demand for Puma Swaraj. This 
was neither a unanimous nor a pcjpular decision. The dissenters 
in the party gave a determined fight at the AlCC session (27-28 
July 1940) at Poona. The official resolution, however, was 
carried by 95 votes to 47.-^ Gandhi felt unhappy at the 
willingness of the Congress to climb onto the bandwagon of 
the world-wide conflagration. 

Instead of accepting the “friendly offer and practical 
suggestion” made by the Congress for the “patriotic co-opera- 
tion of all the people of India” in the war-effort, the Government 
announced its own August offer (8 August 1940). Instead of a 
national government, enlargement of the Viceroy’s Executive 
Council was offered by absorbing “a certain number of re- 
presentative Indians” and constituting a War Advisory Council 
with representatives from British India as well as from “Indian 
India.” It was further promised that, after the conclusion of 
the war, “a body representative of the principal elements in 
India’s national life” would devise the framework of a new 
constitution. The nationalist demand was conceded that 
India’s future constitution should be framed by Indians without 
outside interference. Representatives of various parties were 
called upon to come to an agreement about “the form which 
the post-war representative body should take and the methods 
by which it should arrive at its conclusions and upon the 

23. Indian National Congress, March 1940 to September 1946 (Allahabad, 
All India Congress Committee, 1946), pp. 74-5. 

24. Mitra, n. 7. vol 2, 1940, pp, 193-4. 



principles and outlines of the constitution itself. ”^6 the 
same time, however, the Viceroy assured the Muslim League 
and similar elements in India that no transfer of power from 
British to Indian hands would take place unless they were fully 
satisfied. “It goes without saying”, said the Viceroy, “that 
they [the British] could not contemplate transfer of their present 
responsibilities for the peace and welfare of India to any 
system of Government whose authority is directly denied by 
large and powerful elements in India’s national life.” In the 
end, the Viceroy appealed to all the parties, communities and 
interests in India to co-operate with the Government in its war 
effort, thereby creating new bonds of union and understanding, 
and paving the way lor the attainment by India of free and 
equal partnership in the British Commonwealth. 

Jinnah, immediately interpreted the August offer as an 
official recognition of his “Pakistan” demand, in actual point 
of fact, the offer had accepted the Muslim League’s demand for 
a virtual veto on India’s constitutional advance. Naturally, 
the Congress felt unhappy, and deplored the offer. The offer 
also seemed to be an attempt to bring the nationalist elements 
back to the parliamentary forum, so that the country would be 
free from agitational politics at least during the period of the 

The Congress saw in the August offer a rejection of its 
Poona proposal, and inferred that this was a “...proof of the 
British Government’s determination to continue to hold India 
by the sword... The desire of the Congress not to embarrass 
the British Government, at a time of peril for them, has been 
misunderstood and despised.”^’ 


Indeed, by spurning the Poona proposal the Government 
indirectly helped the Congress in regaining its vantage position 

25. Statement issued with the authority of His Majesty's Government by 
tht Governor General on August 8, 1940 (London, His Majesty’s 
Stationary Office, 1940), cmd. 6219, p. 3. 

26. Ibid. Also, R. Coupland, The Indian Problem^ Report on the 
Constitutional Problem in India. Part 11 (New York, 1944), pp. 333-5. 

27. Indian National Congress Report, n. 23, pp. 79-52, 



among the people. The Congress not only rejected the August 
offer, but also withdrew its own Poona offer. The argument, 
spelt out by Abul Kalam Azad, was simple ; “Now that 
Britain has rejected all the offers made by the Congress we have 
only one thing left to do and that is to non-co-operate in every 
way with the war effort.”"* To regain its pre-Poona position, 
the Congress decided to recall Gandhi to lead the party. And 
in order to reassure him the AICC declared that the Congress 
was pledged to follow non-violence for the vindication of India’s 
freedom. It added that the Congress firmly believed in the 
policy and practice of non-violence not only in the struggle for 
Swaraj, but also in so far as this might be possible of applica- 
tion in free India. 

The Government was looking askance at the proceedings 
of the Congress. Without entering into a direct confrontation 
with it, the Government first isibed, on 5 August 1940, an 
Ordinance imposing “a strong measure of control” over the 
volunteer organizations of all the parties. According to it : 
“The drilling with or without arms and the wearing of unofficial 
uniforms which bear a colourable resemblance to military or 
other official uniforms would be prohibited under the Defence 
of India Rules 58 and 59.”*® The Ordinance contained a con- 
cealed threat against all the parties in general and the Congress 
in particular. The Government was obviously ready to put off 
its velvet glove. 

The Government had other reasons also for showing the 
iron fist to the Congress at this time. The refusal of the 
Congress and the Muslim League to participate in Government- 
organized Civic Guard had made the latter almost a force. 
Besides, the Congress refused to take part in the District War 
Committees. Nationalist opinion branded the participants in 
the Civic Guard and the War Committees “as a set of 
Johukums,” and the formation of the committees as “another 
manoeurve at divide and rule policy.”®* 

For the time being, the Government thought it wise to 
wait and watch, postponing drastic and comprehensive action 

28. /fi«„ pp. 11-4. 

29. Ibid., p. 13. 

30. Home Political File No. 74/3/40, 

31. Ibid. 



against the Congress until the right moment. Right then, 
Gandhi did not seem inclined to launch a mass civil dis- 
obedience movement for the following reasons : 

(1) Under the existing circumstances people^ bad lost 
respect for moral and ethical values. An atmosphere 
conducive to satyagraha was non-existent. 

(2) Anti-British feeling was not sufficiently widespread. 
Economic benefits had made large sections of people 
economically and politically satisfied and well- 

(3) The Congress might be deprived of the goodwill of 
world opinion. Satyagraha could succeed only by 
evoking world-wide sympathy in its favour. But at 
that time such sympathy would be with Great 

(4) The educated unemployed were already absorbed into 
different posts created as a result of the outbreak of 
the war. Many of them had joined the armed forces. 

(5) Businessmen, industrialists farmers, and the labour, 
all were busy in improving their economic lot. 

(6) There was no emotional unity in the country. In 
the three Muslim League governed provinces— the 
Punjab, Sind and Bengal— might de- 
generate into a clash between the Hindus and the 
Muslims. Gandhi was much disturbed at the rising 
popularity of the Khaksars, a militant Muslim 
volunteer organization. He saw the possibility of a 
clash between the Muslim and the Hindu volunteers. 

(7) Under the direction and guidance of the Communists 
satyagraha might result in a class warfare between the 
Capitalists and the Communists. 

(8) Gandhi was suspicious about the motives of the 
leftist groups because of their disrespect towards the 
charkha and lack of interest in the constructive 


32. Home Political File No. 18/1/40, Fortnightly report, Bombay, January 
1940. According to information reaching the Government of India, 
the Communists thought Nehru would press for a movement. Seeing 
bis reluctance they denounced him for bis “pc Ity-boirgeois vacilla- 
tions.” According to another Communist source, Nehru actually wrote 



Besides, the removal of the leftist leaders by the Govern* 
ment from the political scene had helped in considerably 
lessening the pressure for a mass civil disobedience movement. 
Gandhi was expecting some sort of “goading” from the side of 
the Government which would automatically prepare the ground 
for a moment. But at the movement, the Government had 
not yet resorted to repressive measures. Jt was more or less 
inactive. A native psychologically surcharged with an anti- 
British feeling could well respond to a mass movement. A 
wrong step or a wrong action on the part of the authorities 
could be converted into an issue of moral and ethical importance 
on the basis of which Gandhi could fight a psycho-political 
warfare against the authorities. 

Taking all these factors into account, Gandhi wanted to 
postpone a mass civil disobedience movement for an indefinite 
period. But he also realized that^e could not possibly stem 
for long the mounting pressure for such a movement. He also 
thought that the inactivity of the Congress had induced the 
Government to neglect the Congress and underestimate its 
importance. Such a restraint could not be prolonged except 
for self-destruction.33 He also felt that the policy of non- 
embarrassment which the Congress was following at his instance 
was not paying much dividends. This lack of appreciation and 
understanding on the part of the Government ultimately led 
Gandhi to think in terms of doing something to keep the 
Congress organization alive as well as to give a mild jolt to the 
authorities, and in the process maintain the prestige of the 

Gandhi was ready to launch a movement. But he limited 
it to selected individuals, and made opposition to all wars its 
central issue. In such a movement, Gandhi could justify the 
importance of non-violence and also propagate it as the only 

to Gandhi to start the movement immediately—otherwise he would 
come out openly and denounce him. The same source said that under his 
leadership the provincial Congress Committee had already been con- 
verted into the saiyagraha Committee in U.P. and was preparing the 
ground for a mass movement ; satyagraha bulletins had appeared 
already and the Congress bad a plan to establish two transmitters for 
propaganda work. Home Political File No. 3/18/40. 

33 Home Political Fik No. 3/16/40, 



means to bring about conciliation and peace among the warring 
nations. It would not be a movement against Great Britain or 
the Allied countries alone ; it would be a protest against all the 
war-mongering nations. A mass movement wouW only invite 
widespread repression and at the end it would become a direct 
confrontation between the authorities and the masses. Still 
committed to the principle of non-embarrassment, Gandhi was 
aware of the need for a new model and a new technique. 

While Gandhi was racking his brains to formulate an anti- 
war protest movement that would not embarrass the Goverment, 
the latter distrusting the Congress, was getting ready to face a 
civil disobedience movement that would be more massive than 
the previous two Gandhian movements. A draft “Revolutionary 
Movement Ordinance’* was prepared and circulated to all the 
Provincial Governments, i^ccording to it the Government 
would acquire the power 

(i) to arrest, detain and control suspected persons ; 

(ii) to control local authorities and educational institu- 
tions ; 

(iii) to confiscate money or other valuables used for the 
revolutionary movement ; 

(iv) to control cinematograph and dramatic performances 
and publications ; 

(v) to regulate means of transport ; 

(vi) to control the use of post, telegraph, telephone, wire- 
less telegraphy or broadcasting ; 

(vii) to impose collective fines on inhabitants of turbulent 
areas ; 

(viii) to search places and persons. 

People taking part in boycotting, mock-funerals, quasi- 
military organizations and sabotage activities or rossessing 
proscribed documents would be adequately punished. There 
was also a provision for “the constitution of special courts with 
special powers, for dealing with refractory accused”. The 
memorandum on Press control mentioned that “no adverse 
comment whether fair or not, will be allowed on any action 
taken by Government to put down the movement.” Of course, 
there would not be complere black out of news on the move- 
ment, but press advisers would be appointed to guide the local 
newspaper editors. The press messages connected wifh atro* 



cities committed by the police ot military, reports on inffamatory 
or seditious speeches and comments— deliberately designed to 
exhibit the Government in an unfavourable light — would be 

The Ordinance, as it finally emerged, was a comprehensive 
document. It had eighty-eight clauses, with six chapters. 
Extensive emergency powers were provided. Some provincial 
Governors opposed the title of the Ordinance. They believed 
that it would create a misleading impression in the United 
States and would give a handle to Goebbles for anti-British 
propaganda. In view of this and in order to be more specific 
and precise, the Government changed the title to “Emergency 
Powers Ordinance, 1940.”®® 

Gandhi was still groping. He told the AICC delegates in 
Bombay : “There is no questiog of mass civil-disobedience. I 
am still searching for something. So far, I have not been able 
to find anything.”®® Finally he decided to start individual 
satyagraha on the issues of free speech and civil liberty. Declar- 
ing that the freedom of propagating non-violence as a substitute 
for war is most relevant when indecent savagery is being 
perpetrated by the warring nations”, Gandhi invited all the 
conscientious objectors to take part in his satyagraha. 

The satyagraha was intended to be a unique moral protest 
movement. Its style and technique were to be determined by 
Gandhi who was also to make the selection of the satyagrahis. 
Everything connected \^ith the satyagraha would be done over- 
board ; no secrecy would be maintained ; and no mass- 
demonstrations would be permitted. The satyagraha would be 
more qualitative than quantitative, more representative than 
popular, more spiritual than political.®^ 

Lacking in mass enthusiasm and mass participation, the 
individual satyagraha movement failed to produce much of 

34. Home Political File No. 3/19/40. 

35. The Viceroy, Lord Linlithgow, himself suggested the title of “Sub- 
versive Movement Ordinance” with a view to giving a subversive 
character to the Congress movement. But later, he agreed to the 
fact that “the first (revolutionary) snacks of the Bastilles, the second 
(Subversive) of Vine Street”. Finally he agreed to this title, HotuQ 
Political File No. 6/13/40. 

36. Home Political File No.r3/16/40. 

37 . Milra, n. 7, voh 2, 1940, p. 27, 



an impact on the country. Although over twenty thousand 
persons, including most of those holding positions of leadership 
in the Congress organization, courted arrest, it hardly created 
any excitement or unrest, except, to some extent, in 'the initial 
phase. According to a Government report, “in some area it was 
limping along, in others it was moribund and in others again it 
seemed to be dead.”^® Some Congress leaders left the party 
during this time.^^ Initiated by S. Satyamurti, the deputy 
leader of the Congress parliamentary party, and supported by 
such leaders as C. Rajagopalachari, Asaf Ali and Bhulabhai 
Desai a move was brewing in the Congress circles to bring the 
party back to the parliamentary path. However, Gandhi 
remained unimpressed. Going back to the parliamentary path, 
he thought, would produce demoralization and hamper subse- 
quent struggles.^® , 

From the middle of 1941 onwards the Government, in- 
spite of its apprehensions and suspicions, was considering the 
release of the individual saiyagrahis. The growth of the jail 
population was causing administrative inconveniences to most 
of the provincial Governments. In Madras, for example, 
ordinary convicts were released to make room for the satya- 
grahis. Moreover, the feeding of such a large number of 
Government ‘guests’ was adding to the economic burden 
on the provincial Governments. Besides, the treatment 
meted out to the satyagrahi prisoners seemed to have provided 
the press in India, the United States and Great Britain 
with material for anti-Government propaganda. The Govern- 
ment also realized that the movement had remained merely 
symbolic in character, and had failed to make any deep 
inroads into its war efforts. The time was opportune for the 
Government *'to show a sign of confidence in their ability to 

38. Home Political File Nos. 18/10/41, 18/11/41 Fortnightly reports, U.P., 
October and November 1941 and File No. 4/8/41. 

39. Dr. Satyapal, an ex-President of the Punjab Congress, resigned from 
the party because of his lack of faith in the negative approach of the 
Congress. Homo Political File No. 3/6/41. K.M. Munshi, a promi- 
nent Congress member from Bombay, resigned from the party to form 
the Akhand Hindustan Front on 6 July 1941. 

40. Home Political File No. 3/50/41, Also File No. G-4 (Part— 1), 
/Vice, Nehru Memorial Museum, New Delhi, 



disregard the movement”, and possibly gain some political 
advantage over its rival by showing a friendly gesture. For 
this display of strength and goodwill might induce those still 
sitting on the fence— Congressmen and others as well— to come 
to the Government’s side. Also, this might act as an eye- 
opener to Gandhi and lead him to abandon the path finally.'*^ 

The newly-constituted Viceroy’s Executive Council met on 
14 November 1941, and decided that *‘the process of release 
would start at once and would be completed as soon as ad- 
ministrative requirements permitted.” Owing to opposition 
from some provincial Governments and intervention by the 
Secretary of State, the final order was delayed upto 4 December 
1941 when there were about 4,000 satyagrahis in jail.^^ Within 
a few weeks the Government released all of them, including 
Jawaharlal Nehru and the Congress president, Abul Kalam 
Azad, who had been arrested on different grounds. 

The war situation had meanwhile taken a serious turn, 
following Germany’s attack on and swift advance into the 
Soviet Union in mid- 1941, Japan was consolidating its position 
in the Far-East. Pearl Harbour was attacked on 7 December 
1941, thereby bringing about complete U.S. participation in the 
war on the Allied side. 

The ewe met at Bardoli (23-30 December 1941) to assess 
the changed situation, and reiterated that only a free and 
independent India could properly undertake the defence of the 
country on a national basis. ^ Gandhi characteristically refused 
to compromise on the issue of participation in the war. He 
followed the logic of his refusal and decided to quit the party 
leadership. The differences between Gandhi and other Congress 
leaders appeared to be centring once again round the question 

41. Home Political File No. 3/36/41 and 3/6/42. 

42. Home Political File No. 3/36/41. 

43. Azad was arrested on 3 January 1941 on the charge of inciting people 
to start a mass movement at Allahabad. He was sentenced to eighteen 
months* simple imprisonment. Home Political File No. 18/I/4I, 
Fortnightly report, U.P., January 1941. Nehru, arrested on 31 
October 1940, was sentenced to four years* rigorous imprisonment on 
the charge of prejudicing recruitment, creating disaffection towards 
the Government, and undermining national confidence to hamper the 
war-effort. Home Political File No. 3/18/40. 

44. Indian National Congress Report, n. 23, p. 19, 



of non-violence. Abul Kalam Azad said : “The question 
before him [Gandhi] was whether we were prepared to take up 
the position that the Congress would not participate in the 
present war on the ground of non-violence alone. We found 
ourselves unable to go so far despite our utmost desire to do 
so.” But Gandhi’s closest adherents, Rajendra Prasad, 
VallabhbhaifPatel, J.B. Kriplani and Prafulla Ghosh, in a joint 
statement (3 January 1942), asserted that they had understood 
Gandhi’s Bombay resolution in a different way from other 
Congress leaders.^® 

Gandhi neither opposed nor criticized the Congress stand. 
He felt that by offering conditional support the Congress had 
not violated the principle of non-violence; rather, under com- 
pulsion, it had made “a smaljl opening just with a view to shake 
hands with Britain.”^® His exist from the leadership did not 
cause any flutter in the party. It continued to function as be- 
fore. Gandhi was only physically out. His spirit continued 
to prevail upon the organization. 

Gandhi’s withdrawal from the leadership naturally led to 
the cessation of individual satyagraha. The Government’s 

45. They believed ‘'that it would be nothing short of a calamity for the 
Congress to abandon non-violence on any account. For by doing so 
we lose everything including what we have achieved for the last 
20 years... Non-violence as the official policy of the Congress holds 
even to day. The Working Committee resolution contemplates 
association in the present war in the remote contingency of the British 
Government making an effer acceptable to the Congress. If that 
happens we cannot, of coun.e, remain in the Working Committee.** 

They also asked the members of the AICC to use independent 
judgment “irre.'^pective of party loyalty” on this issue. They went as 
far as to say ; “we feel that the Working Committee will welcome the 
rejection of its resolution if the AICC holds that the contemplated 
abandonment of non-violence is against the interests of the country 
and, therefore, the Congress principally on that ground should not 
participate in the war effort.” 

File No. P-1 (Part— 2) 1942 AICC, Nehru Memorial Museum. 

46. “The Bardoli resolution is net a copy of Poora. It is faultless. The 
Poona resolution was a mistake. At one time I decided to divide the 
House to find who is with me, but in view of the Congress atmos- 
phere and comments about us, my non-violence advised me to ask you 
to support the icsolution’*— Gandhi in AICC meeting at Wardha 
^15 January 1942). Mitra, n. 7, vol. 1, 1942, p. 3 ^ 


unilateral cease fire vis-a-vis the Congress had enlivened many 
expectations and aspirations. The Congress, loo, was now 
willing to reciprocate and shoulder the responsibilities of 
national defence. 

The hopes were soon belied. There was not even a dim 
prospect of a change in British policy. The Government was 
not prepared to go any further. Sensing this, the Congress 
virtually despaired of reaching an understanding with the Govern- 
ment.^^ Leaving behind the path of satyagraha, the AICC 
decided (21 January 1942) to take up the constructive pro- 
gramme in right earnest by going “to the villages” where war 
conditions had created so many diflScuIties for the people. It 
also decided to open the door of the organization to all those 
who were interested in working for the two-fold programme of 
self-protection and self-sufficiency to meet the internal disorders 
that the war situation had caused.^® 


By the beginning of 1942 the dust raised by the individual 
satyagraha had almost settled down. However, black clouds 
had appeared on the eastern sky of India, containing war 
threats which were ominous and imminent. The political 
weather, which was showing sunsnine for sometime, suddenly 
became inclement ; a political storm in the near future was 
forecast. The rapid decline in British fortunes in the East and 
South East Asia had in tensified alarm and despondence and unner- 
ved the people. The uneasiness that prevailed was being aggravat- 
ed by the growing shortage of cereals, general suspension of busi- 
ness in some places and difficulties of getting essential supplies. 
The stories of evacuees and refugees from the Far East and of 
soldiers on leave, alarmist letters from Burma and Calcutta, the 
defeatist tone of the vernacular press all created an apathetic 
and fatalistic attitude towards the war.^® 

47. File No. P—1 (Part 2) 1942, AICC, Nehru Memorial Museum. 

48. File No G— 16 (1942-46) AICC, Nehru Memorial Museum. 

49. There were rumours that tne Japanese used to treat the Indians well in 
Burma and Malaya. It was said that many Indian soldiers had 
deserted and joined the Japanese army. There was a feeling that any 
support to the British now would meet with brutal reprisals from the 


In early April 1942, Japanese bombs started falling in the 
eastern coastal areas of India. They had hit Cocanada and 
Visakhapatnam ; at the latter place five people were killed and 
forty were injured. The immediate reaction to bombing was a 
large scale exodus of people from the port and town areas to 
the interior rural areas. In Visakhapatnam, the railway system 
was completely paralysed ; most of the Government officials, 
particularly the subordinates, fled away ; so did some police- 
men belonging to the special Emergency Force. The local 
Government admitted the fact that the air-protection of the 
area was inadequate. There were very few anti-aircraft guns. 
The whole civil defence machinery was in shambles. The mili- 
tary intelligence, above all, prophesied that an invasion in 
force by the Japanese was likely to take place within a few days 
somewhere on the east-coast tof India at some point south of 
Masulipatam. The local Government immediately gave orders 
for evacuation. Government offices were shifted to various 
places like Ootacamund, Coimbatore, Vellore, Salem and 
Chittoor. Only the Governor, the Chief Secretary and some 
advisers stayed back at Fort St. George, Madras. By 14 April 
1942, two lakhs of people had been evacuated. The Govern- 
ment prepared an Evacuation Scheme to give relief and com- 
fort to the evacuees by establishing camps in different places. 
The ports of Madras and Visakhapatnam were closed down. 
Most of the people living in the coastal areas left for interior 
places. Many industrial towns, including Bombay, Ahmedabad 
and Sholapur, were greatly affected by this sudden migration of 

Soon the country faced a gigantic problem in the form of 

Japanese afterwards. There was a rumour that the Japanese in fhe 
occupied Malayan territory were kind to the Indians and that a Nattu 
Rottai Chetty had been appointed by the Japanese as the High Com- 
missioner there. Home Political File Nos. 18/1/42 and 18/2/42, 
Fortnightly reports, Madras, January and February 1942. 

According to a Government intelligence report : “People had 
lost faith in the British war news. There were rumours that Japanese 
would attack simultaneously Chittagong, Calcutta and Madras. An 
imminent collapse of British power had been taken for granted. In 
Bengal, even some people started learning Japanese.” Homo 
Political File No. 18/2/42, Fortnightly report, Bengal, February 



a sudden thrust of Indian evacuees from Burma, Malaya and 
Ceylon. From Ceylon alone over thirt> -three thousand Indians 
emigrated (upto 21 April 1942).^® The Indian evacuees coming 
from Burma and Malaya had a very hard time. The differential 
treatment received by the Indian evacuees at the hands of the 
British oflScials soon became a hot topic for discussion among 
nationalist leaders and the press. The exhibition of racial bias 
and prejudice by the British caused much ire and rancour in 
the Congress circles. Nehru described it as blatant racial dis- 
crimination ; “...every effort is being made to find luxury 
quarters for Europeans and hardly any one except some private 
agencies care for Indian families who are adrift. The AICC, 
on 30 April 1942, adopted a strong resolution regarding recent 
happenings in Burqia, notably in the city of Rangoon. The 
Government suppressed the resolution.®- Amery, the Secretary 

50. Home Political File Nos. 18/2/42, 18/3/42 and 18/4/42, Fortnightly 
reports, Madras and Bombay, February, March and April 1942. 

51. Mitra, n. 7, vol. 1, 1942. p, 58. 

52. The AlCC passed the following resolution unansmously : 

“It (the AICC) noted with indignation the arrangements made for and 
the treatment eccorded to avacuees and refugees from Malaya and 
Burma to India. The officials whose business and duty it was to 
protect the lives and interests of the people in their respective areas 
utterly failed to discharge that responsibility and, running away from 
their post of duty, sought safety for themselves, leaving the vast 
majority of the people wholly uncared and unprovided for. Such 
arrangements for evacuation as were made were meant principally for 
the European population and at every step racial discrimination was 
in evidence. Because of this and also because of the utter incompetence, 
callousness and selfishness of those in authority, vast numbers of 
Indians in Malaya and Bnrma have not only lost all they possessed 
but have also undergone unimaginable sufferings, many dying on the 
way, from lack of the necessities of life, from disease, or from attacks 
from anti-social elements. 

**Racial discrimination was shown at the base camps in Burma 
where special arrangements were made for Europeans and Anglo- 
Burmans, while Indians were left almost uncared for ; in the matter of 
according of special facilities for transport and travel to the Europeans 
and Eurasians ; and in the general treatment given to Indians and 
non-Indians along the route and at various camps. In particular, 
this was in evidence in the scandal of a safer and more convenient 
route being practically reserved for non-Indians, while Indians were 



of State for India, later stated that the banned resolution was 
based on “gross misrepresentation of facts or on unverified 
rumour.”^® The All India Muslim League also condemned the 
British officials for their “shameful discrimination”* against 
Indian nationals. The All India Women’s Conference, 
criticizing the attitude of the Government, said : “...unaided by 
the Government, often obstructed by a most annoying red tape, 
starving, attacked by fevers and pestilence, harried by anti- 
social elements, these refugees have been reduced to the ‘scum 
of the earth*. 

The war also brought cataclysmic changes on the econo- 
mic front, and accelerated the process of modernization in 
India. The economic infrastructure was considerably widened. 
But the sudden evacuation of people, particularly of the indus- 
trial labour from factory ,<)ites to interior rural areas, almost 
disrupted industrial production. The economy suffered a 
slump. Not only did the food prices go up everywhere, but 
disruption of the transportation of food-stuff from one place to 
another created a near-famine situation in many parts of the 
country. Confidence in the paper currency was on the wane, 
and businessmen were converting paper money into bullion ; 
they were even reluctant to hand over “Victoria rupees.”^® 
There was a general feeling of uncertainty and insecurity about 
the future. 

forced to travel by a longer, more difficult and more dangerous 

J.B. Kriplani, Gandhi : His Life and Thought (New Delhi, Government 
of India, 1970), p. 196. 

53. UK, Commons, Parliamentary Debates^ scries 5, vol. 379, session 1942, 
cols. 1388-90, Amery’s Speech, 7 May 1942. 

54. Home Political File No. 17/2/42. 

55. Home Political File No. 18/8/42. 

56. Home Political File Nos, 18/2/42 and 18/4/42, Fortnightly reports, 
Bihar, February and April 1942. 

57. The possibility of the Government following the Denial policy and 
the Scorched Earth policy in the threatened areas caused much scare 
among the Indian business community. The Indian Merchants 
Chamber, Bombay, stressed that it would strike at the very root of 
India’s economic structure, and made an earnest request that this 
policy should not be followed in this country. Home Political File 
No. 219/42. 

Gandhi described the Scorched Earth policy as “ruinous, suicidal 


The Chinese and the Americans were also getting concer- 
ned at nationalist India’s reluctance to fight the war. They 
felt that without popular participation, it would be diflScult 
to mobilize the masses behind the war machine. Though un- 
willingly, the Government of India bad to extend an invitation 
to Chiang Kai-sh^k and Madame Chiang Kai-shek as they had 
expressed their keenness to visit India. The Government 
particularly disliked the Chinese leader’s eagerness to meet 
Gandhi and Nehru. Reacting with characteristic sharpness, 
Churchill wrote to the Viceroy that Chiang had proposed him- 
self and would be an honoured guest ; but he had no right to 
intervene between the Government of the King-Emperor and 
any of King’s subjects. It would be a disastrous prospect to 
have Gandhi and Nehru on one side and the Viceroy of India 
on the other, with Chiang-Kai-sJj^ek arbitrating between them.®® 
It was decided that other leaders like Jinnah and Ambedkar 
would be thrust upon him in an attempt to minimize the impor- 
tance of the Congress. 

It seemed, however, that the visitors were inclined to 
accept the Congress as the only important nationalist force. In 
a meeting with Jinnah, the Chinese leader told him that he could 
not understand ‘'why nine crores of Muslims require a separate 
state.” In China ten crores of Muslims were living most peace- 
fully with other communities.®® The Viceroy also highlighted the 
differences between the Congress and the Muslim League and 
stressed the fact that the objective of the Government was to 

and unnecessary”. M.K. Gandhi, “Implications of Withdrawal”, 
Harijan, 24 May 1942. 

Earlier, Gandhi had said : “...are we able to contemplate with 
equanimity, or feci the glow of bravery and sacrifice at the prospect 
of India’s earth being scorched and everything destroyed in order that 
the enemy’s march may be hampered ? I see neither bravery nor 
sacrifice in destroying life or property for offence or defence.” He 
asked the Government of India that at least for national and humini- 
tarian considerations this policy should not be carried out. M.K. 
Gandhi, “Scorched Eafth”, Hanjan, 22 March 1942. 

58. Churchill to Linlithgow, 6 February 1942, Nicholas Mansergh, cd,, 
The Transfer of Power, 1942^41, Vol. I, The Cripps Mission, Jannary^ 
v4pri7;P42 (London, 1970), p. 121. 

59. Home Political File No. 18/2/42, Fortnightly report, Bengal, February 



harmonise these so far as possible. Making his own assessment 
of the situation, Chiang-Kai-shek concluded his visit by advis- 
ing the British Government “as speedily as possible to give 
them (Indians) real political power.”®® 

The Marshal’s pronouncement was in consonance with 
the American policy-objective at that time. On his return to 
China» Chiang-Kai-shek also conveyed the impressions of his 
visit to President Roosevelt and wrote that if the British 
Government did not fundamentally change its policy towards 
India, it would amount to inviting the Japanese to occupy India. 
He felt both worried and alarmed at this prospect. He even 
suspected that in British circles there was neither a feeling of 
immediate danger nor a determined spirit to fight. President 
Roosevelt, too, felt that Indians would co-operate better with 
the British if they were assur^jd of independence, at least after 
the war.®^ 


Roosevelt’s interest in the Indian problem was not entirely 
fruitless. The indirect American pressure combined with the 
sound of booming guns in the neighbourhood of Assam frontier 
to elicit from Churchill a demonstration of his ‘sincere’ 
anxiety to settle the Indian question on reasonable terms. 

60 According to information reaching the Government, at a meeting in 
Calcutta between Chiang-Kai-shek on one side and Gandhi and 
Nehru on the other, a plan for the formation of a Federation of 
eastern countries, viz , Japan, China, Buima and India was discussed- 
The Marshal expressed unwillingness to form such an alliance with 
the Japanese. “It is reported that he (Marshal) disapproved of 
making any appeal to Britain to give more power to the Indians as he 
considered this would be a discourteous act. It was, then, under 
persuasion of Nehru that the final message was agreed upon in words 
approved by Nehru”. Home Political File No. 219/42. 

61. Chiang-Kai-shek to Roosevelt, 24 February 1942, Foreign Relations 
of the United States 1942^ Val. f. The British Comm nwealth 
(Washington, I960), pp. 605-6. 

62. Memoirs of Cordell Hull (New York, 1948), p. 1482. 

63. Churjhill in a message to the Viceroy on 10 March 1942, said .* 

“It would be impossible, owing to unfortunate rumours and publicity, 
and the general American outlook to stand on a purely negative 


Besides, some members of the British Cabinet also realised the 
need to do something to satisfy the Indian nationalist opinion.®^ 

On 11 March 1942, Churchill announced that Stafford 
Cripps, a member of the British War Cabinet, would visit 
India on an official mission, and carry the British Government’s 
Draft Declaration containing proposals to settle the Indian 
question. Cripps had already proved his worth as an astute 
diplomat and a successful negotiator (Recently he had negotiated 
an alliance with Soviet Russia). He possessed the added advan- 
tage of having good contacts with some Congress leaders, 
notably Nehru. It was natural that both the sides should expect 
the Mission to succeed. 

Cripps arrived in New Delhi on 23 March 1942, and 
immediately commenced serious conversations with Indian 
leaders. He kept the proposals jeeret for a week and published 
them on 30 March 1942.®*^ The proposals had been drafted 
with a view to satisfying the three major elements in Indian 
politics, v/z., the Congress, the Muslim League and the princes. 
In order to satisfy the Congress, they offered, after the end of 
the war, Dominion Status, a Constituent Assembly and the 
right of secession from the Commonwealth. The Muslim 
League obtained freedom for the pi evinces to accede or not 
to accede to the future Indian Union. The princes also got the 
free option to join the Union or to remain outside by forming a 
new union of Indian states. 

The proposals failed to enthuse the Congress. It found 
them vague and circumscribed in various ways. Nor could it 

attitude and the Cripps Mission is indispen‘^aMe to prove our honesty 
of purpose and to gain time far necessary consultations.** Mansergh, 
n. 58, p. 395. 

64. Clement Attlee, the Deputy Prime Minister, was particularly feeling 
dissatisfied with the Government of India’s “sitting tight” and “a 
hand to mouth” policy. In a memorandum to the War Cabinet, he 
suggested (2 February 1942) the adoption of either of the following 
course of action : 

“(a) To entrust some person of high standing either already in 
India or sent out from here with wide powers to negotiate a settle- 
ment in India ; or 

(b) To bring representative Indians over here to discuss with us 
a settlement”. 

Ibid,, pp. 110-12. 

65. For Draft Declaration see pp. 337-40, 



view with equanimity the prospect of the Balkanization of India. 
The main hurdle in the acceptance of the proposals, however, 
proved to be the defence issue. For the Congress was prepared 
to set aside its objections regarding the future, provided it could 
be assured of a satisfactory solution regarding the immediate 
present. In this context the arrangement for organizing 
national defence assumed great importance, especially since in a 
war situation almost everything else would, directly or indirectly, 
be subsumed under defence. This argument (lowed from the 
stand the Congress had consistently taken that India’s defence 
could be properly organized only under nationalist leadership. 
The British thinking on this issue was nowhere near satisfying 
the Congress. 

In his very first press interview Cripps made it clear that 
the defence portfolio would ijpt be transferred to Indian hands 
even if all the Indian leaders made a united demand for it.®<^ 
Later, Cripps produced a formula according to which the 
British Commander-in-Chief would retain his seat in the Vice- 
roy’s Executive Council as War member and thereby also retain 
full control over all the war operations. An Indian Member 
of the Executive Council would be in charge of deience and 
would deal with public relations, demobilization and post-war 
reconstruction, petroleum, representation on the Eastern Group 
Supply Council, amenities for troops, canteen organization and 
certain non technical educational institutions, stationery, print- 
ing and forms for the army and social arrangements for all 
Foreign Missions and officers, also Denial policy — evacuation 
of threatened areas, signals co-ordination and economic 
welfare. The Congress did not like the elaborate list of the 
functions of the defence member. Nehru and Azad with caustic 
pithiness, said that the list was '‘a revealing one.”®® 

66. Proceedings of a Press Conference held by Cripps on 29 March 1942. 
/6/V.,pp. 537-51. 

67. Linlhgow to Amcry, 6 April 1942. Ibid , p. 667. 

68. Brailsford commented on this list : “What enemy of England and 
India drafted this list ? Or is there at Head Quarters in New Delhi 
a reckless satirist ? But perhaps we should admire the patient 
industry which scrapped up these odds and ends. Petroleum, Canteens 
and Stationery, but why not red tape and pipe-clay ?’* Henry Noel 
Brailsford, Subject India (New York, 1943), pp. 71-2. 



The Congress Working Committee decided, on 7 April 
1942, to reject this formula. But Roosevelt’s personal repre- 
sentative in India, Colonel Louis Johnson, advised the Congress 
president not to publish the rejection. After meeting Cripps 
and the Congress leaders, Johnson formulated what came to be 
known as Cripp , -Johnson formula, according to which the 
defence department would be placed in charge of a represen- 
tative Indian with all the functions, excluding those exercised 
by the Commander-in-Chief as War member of the Executive 
Council.** There was no substantial difference between the old 
and the new formulas. Even so the Viceroy was not happy at 
the new formula, and felt that it would cause severe erosion of 
his power. 

While the negotiations regarding the defence portfolio 
were still proceeding, another, eveli more serious, issue cropped 
up. From the very beginning, the Congress had assumed that 
the newly constituted Executive Council would function like a 
Cabinet and its relation with the Viceroy would be the same as 
that of the Cabinet with the Crown in the United Kingdom. 
It was reported that Cripps had assured Abul Kalam Azad 
(25 March 1942) that it would be a cabinet form of Govern- 
ment.’® Cripps was thereupon reminded from London that 
this was not a correct interpretation of the British position. 
The Secretary of State for India wrote to him that the consti- 
tutional position of the Viceroy’s Council could not be altered 
in the existing situation. The Viceroy-in-Council should act as 
a collective body. It should be responsible to the Secretary of 
State and subject to the Viceroy’s special powers and duties. 
The Secretary of State also felt uneasy at the loose use of the 
term Cabinet by Cripps.’^ He even insisted that the three 
European members must be retained in the Executive Council ; 
and that the Home portfolio should not be given to an Indian 
for, that would disturb communal harmony and adversely 
affect the secret services.’* Later, Cripps denied having 

69. Cripps to Churchill, 10 April 1942, Mansergh, n. 58, pp. 713-4. 

70. Cripps’ interview with Maulana Azad and Asaf Ali, 25 March 1942. 
Ibid , p. 479. 

71. Amcry to Cripps, 6, April 1942. Ibid., pp. 663-4. 

72. Amery to Linlithgow, 7 April 1941. Ibid,, p. 690, 



assured the Congress leaders that there would be Cabinet form 
of Government. 

Resenting this volte-facey the Congress refused to continue 
further negotiations. Cripps treated this as a rejection of the 
proposals brought by him, and left India on 12 April 1942. 
When the news of failure of the Cripps Mission reached 
Washington, Roosevelt made a last-ditch attempt to salvage it. 
He wrote to Churchill : “I hope most earnestly that you may 
be able to postpone the departure from India of Cripps until 
one more effort has finally been made to prevent breakdown of 
the negotiations.”’^ The cable came too late. Cripps had already 
left India. His Mission had failed. 

The failure of the Cripps Mission lay in the serious cons- 
traints within which Cripps was forced to operate. While he 
was exploring various possibiKties and sensing his way toward 
a possible settlement by holding out promises which appeared 
to him necessary as he carried on negotiations with the Indian 
leaders, he was obliged by the combined pressure of the Viceroy, 
the Secretary of State for India and the Prime Minister to 
adhere faithfully to the text of the Draft Declaration. Much to 
his discomfiture, Cripps realized that the Viceroy and the 
British Cabinet were equally hostile to Indian control over 
defence and to the functioning of the Viceroy’s Executive 
Council as a Cabinet. As Johnson, Roosevelt’s representa- 
tive in India, observed later : “...neither Churchill, the Viceroy 
nor Wavell desired that the Cripps Mission be a success and 
that in fact they were determined that it should not be.”’® 
Roosevelt himself thought that the British were not prepared 
to transfer power’® : 

The feeling is almost universally held that the deadlock 

has been caused by the unwillingness of the British 

73. President Roosevelt to Churchill, 12 April 1942. Ibid , p 759. 

74. Amery, in a communication to Linlithgow, said : ‘'It is clear from 
the telegrams that bearings between you and Cripps must have been 
getting pretty heated during the last few days, and indeed they were 
getting pretty heated between him and the cabinet.... “What a relief 
now it is over.” Amery further added, “You have escaped being 
saddled with a probably quite unworkable team.’* Amery to Linlitn- 
gow, 1 1 April 1942. Ibid., pp 756-7. 

75. Foreign Relations of the United States, 1942, n. 6j, p. 661. 

76. Roosevelt to Hopkins, 12 April 1942, Mansergh, n. 58, p. 759, 



Government to concede to the Indians the right of Self- 
Government, notwithstanding the wilJingness of the 
Indians to entrust technical, military and naval defence 
control to the competent British authorities. American 
public opinion cannot understand why, if the British 
Government is willing to permit the component parts of 
India to secede from the British Empire after the war, it 
is not willing to permit them to enjoy what is tantamount 
to self-government during the war. 

Clearly disappointed with the British attitude, Roosevelt 
could do little beyond expressing such sentiments. His repre- 
sentative in India did try to have a hand in the negotiations. 
He was welcomed by Cripps ; but not by Linlithgow, Amery 
and Churchill. Linlithgow made no secret of his dislike of 
Johnson’s “dabbling in the constitutional affairs” : “I do not 
altogether like the principle of anybody in his position con- 
cerning himself too closely with detailed negotiations between 
His Majesty’s Government and Indian politicians.”’’ The 
War Cabinet described the attempted intervention as “unfortu- 
nate.”’® Churchill told Cripps that Roosevelt was entirely 
opposed to anything like intervention or mediation’®; and 
mildly rebuked him for over stepping his terms of reference®®: 
We feel that in your natural desire to reach a settlement 
with Congress you may be drawn into positions far diffe- 
rent from any the Cabinet and Ministers of Cabinet rank 
approved before you set forth ... It was certainly 
agreed between us all that there were not to he negotiations 
but that you were to try to gain acceptance with possibly 
minor variations or elaborations of our great offer which 

77. Linlithgow to Amery, 7, April 1942. Ibid,, pp. 690-3. 

78. Minutes of the War Cabinet, 9 April 1942. Ibid,, p. 706. 

79. Churchill to Cripps, 9 April 1942. lbid,,x>. 704. 

80. Churchil to Cripps, 10 April 1942. Ibid., pp. 721-2. Emphasis added. 
Colonel Johnson, in his repert to the Secretary of State, wrote on 1 1 
April 1942: "‘Cripps is sincere. ... He and Nehru could solve it in 5 
minutes if Cripps had any freedom or authority. To my amazement 
when satisfactoiy solution seemed certain, . . . Cripps with embarras- 
sment told me that he could not change original Draft Declaration 
with Churchiirs approval . , . Cripps’ original offer contained little 
more than the unkept promise of the First World War.*’ Foreign 
Fehtions of the United States, 1942, n. 61, p. 631. 



has wade so powerful impression . . . here and through 
out the United States. 

On the eve of his departure from India, Cripps assured Chur- 
chill“that despite failure the atmosphere has improved quite diffe- 
rently, and added®i: We have done our best under the circum- 
stances that exist here and I do not think you need worry about 
my visit having worsened the situation from the point of view 
of morale or public feeling. In the last few days the temper has 
I think been better. 

This had no relation to reality. Quite definitely, the 
situation in India, from the British point of view, was now worse 
than it was before the arrival of Cripps. His earlier pronounce- 
ments had generated great hopes. His failure geneiated greater 
disappointment and frustration. As the oflScial Congress his- 
torian has recorded®^: ^ 

The reaction to the failure of Cripps Mission was so 
sweeping in range and so piercing in intensity that people 
began to doubt whether poor Cripps was the victim of a 
stab in the back by the British Government or whether 
crafty Cripps was the willing agent of a policy of ‘Machia- 
vellian dissimulation, profound hypocrisy and perfidy 
that knew no touch of remorse,” as De Quency would 

The most significant impact of this fiasco was on the mind 
of Gandhi. Hitherto a believer in the doctrine of non embarrass- 
ment vis-a-vis the British during the period of the war, he began 
to feel his way, in utter disregard of the susceptibilities of 
the British, toward the Quit India demand. 

81. Cripps to Churchill, 11 April 1942, Mansergh, n. 58, p* 740. 

82. B. Pattabhi Sitaramayya, History of the Indian Natianal Congress^ 
1935-^1, Vol. 2 (New Delhi, 1969), p. 332. 



'THE failure of the Cripps Mission caused little embarrass- 
^ ment to the British Government. Indeed, such an outcome 
was neither unexpected nor unwelcome.^ In fact, the war 
situation in South East Asia caused greater discomfiture 
and embarrassment to the British, because of their repeated 
defeats at the hands of the Japanese. The myth of British 
supremacy had already been exploded by the irresistible 
Japanese forces. A Japanese invasion of India was on the 
cards. Moreover, Indian loyalty towards the British had been 
adversely affected by the news about the formation of the 
Indian National Army. Besides, the sudden thrust of the 
multi-national Allied troops into the Indian countryside imme- 

1. After the Withdrawal of the War Cabinet’s proposals, L.S. Amery, 
the Secretary of State for India, observed in his political note on the 
Indian situation : 'The sending of the Cripps Mission was in no 
sense a sudden deathbed repentence involving a complete change of 
policy. Full Dominion Status, as defined by the Statute of West- 
minster, had already been promised as the goal by the Viceroy at the 
beginning of 1940. The August 1940 Declaration not only confirmed 
this, but declared the willingness of H.M.G. that it should come into 
being at tbe earliest possible moment after the war that Indians had 
agreed upon a constitution, subject however to such agreement and 
to the due fulfilment of the obligations arising from our historical 
connection with India-’* Nicholas Mansergh, cd.. The Transfer of 
Power 1942-7, Vol. L The Cripps April 1942, (London, 

J970),p. 838, 



diately upset the social balance and caused many tensions and 
conflicts. The situation ms conducive to the corrosion of 
people*s confidence in British capability. Tensions produced 
by these socio-political and military crisis mounted as the 
situation turned from bad to worse. 

But Linlithgow was blissfully obdurate. If the Cripps 
Mission had succeeded, there is reason to believe, he might have 
resigned. He was not the man to stomach the ignominy of 
having to collaborate with the nationalist leadership. The 
failure of the Mission saved his skin, especially because he was 
not held solely responsible for the failure. Impervious to the 
growing unrest among Indians, Linlithgow happily reverted to 
the status quo ante. 

It was expected in certain circles that the British Govern- 
ment would make another offer which might be acceptable to 
the majority ; even some Congress leaders shared the expecta- 
tion. But Amery insisted that: “...initiative must now come 
from Indians. We can hardly be expected after this rejection, 
to go chasing them again, or to send out yet another emis- 

It was obvious that no major constitutional change would 
take place during the war. However, following Cripps’ plan, 
the Viceroy decided to expand his Council, on 2 July, 1942, 
by appointing five more Indians and one non-official European. 
Accepting Cripps’ Defence formula, he bifurcated the defence 
portfolio and offered it to Feroze Khan Noon and left the war 
portfolio with his Commander-in-Chief.® 

A logical outcome of the Cripps Mission, this move was 
intended to win over the waverers and the moderate elements 
of the Congress. But this objective was not fulfilled. Tej 
Bahadur Sapru, the Liberal leader who bad first advocated com- 
plete Indianisation of the Viceroy’s Executive Council, felt 
extremely disappointed.** Sapru’s suggestion was unacceptable 

2. Ibid. 

3. N.N. Mitra. cd., The Indian Annual Register, Vol. 2, 1942 (Calcutta, 
n.d.), p. 2. 

4. Home Political File No. 220/42, National Archives, New Delhi. 
T.B. Sapru, in a press statement on 5 July 1942, stated : '‘It is only a 
continuation of policy of August offer... Home and Finance portfolios 
remain in British bands and war transport portfolio goes to non- 


3 ^ 

to the Government because, as Amery observed, that would 
alienate Muslim sentiments.^ 


Among the prominent Congress leaders, C. Rajagopala- 
chari alone thought that it was Jinnah’s flat refusal to co- 
operate with the Congress in the formation of a National 
Government which had led to the sudden breakdown of nego- 
tiations with Cripps. With this realization, he felt the impera- 
tive necessity of a Congress-League settlement, as a precondi- 
tion for the formation of a National Government at the centre. 
He had the capacity to undertake the task, capable as he was of 
bold and independent thinking, unoppressed by the weight of 
Gandhian logic and strategy. ItPwas at his initiative that the 
Congress in 1940 had made the Poona offer to the British 
Government. With Satyamurty, Bhulabhai Desai and others, 
he was also campaigning to bring back the Congress to the 
parliamentary path. 

Rajagopalachari first moved towards Jinnah, for a settle- 
ment. Rajagopalachari believed that readiness for settlement 
with the opponent was a fundamental principle of non-violent 
action. On behalf of the Congress, he immediately recognized 
the Muslim League as a political organization, next in impor- 
tance to the Congress. Jinnah, as a quid pro quo, promised 
that he would not hereafter dub the Congress as a Hindu body. 

official British representative of big business. Admittedly Indians 
hold ten portfolios against five British portfolios. In ordinary 
circumstances control of Secretary of State over Council, which is 
invisible to outsider, is very real and persistent ; it cannot be less so 
in these days particularly with a man like Amery. Viceroy cannot 
be regarded as benevolent dictator. Morley once described Viceroy 
as Secretary of State’s agent, a view unfortunately justified by present 
situation.” Ibid. 

5. Jinnah had great mistrust about the intentions of Tej Bahadur Supru 
and his association, the Non-Party Leaders Conference, which he 
believed, to be ‘^a patrol” and “reconnoitring parties” on behalf of 
the Congress. He also believed that their main object was “to 
torpedo” the Pakistan scheme, their plan being very “plausible, 
subtle and treacherous”. “They wanted to outmanoeuvre and 3idc« 
tr^ck the Muslim demands.” Political File No, 17/2/42i 



The talks, could not proceed further owing to Jinnah's 
demand to have a fifty per cent share in political power at 
the centre.® 

Rajagopalachari’s own colleagues did not back him up. 
Abul Kalam Azad, the Congress president, totally disapproved 
the idea of granting recognition to the Muslim League’s 
demand. Rajagopalachari, however, felt encouraged when 
Jinnah in a statement, on 15 April 1942, said: “If all parties 
agree to the Muslim demand for Pakistan or partition and 
Muslim right for self-determination, details to be settled after 
the war, then we are prepared to come to any reasonable ad- 
justment with regard to the present.”^ 

The green signal shown by Jinnah immediately resulted 
in a meeting of the Madra? Legislative Congress party on 
23 April, 1942, convened by Rajagopalachari himself. About 
50 M.L.A.’s and about an equal number of invitees participated 
in the meeting. The purport of Rajagopalachari’s speech was 
that the Congress should recognize the demand for Pakistan. 
He appealed to Congressman to get rid of their pre-conceived 
notions and to face f^acts. He believed that the Muslim demand 
for separate existence could only be prevented through a civil 
war. Finally, the meeting passed a resolution asking the AICC 
to acknowledge the Muslim League’s claim for separation, 
should the same be persisted in when the time came for framing 
the future constitution of India ; and to invite the Muslim 
League for consultation for the purpose of arriving at an agree- 
ment and securing the installation of a National Government 
to meet the present emergency. The first part of the resolution 
was carried by thirty- seven for, six against and three neutral ; 
and the second part of the resolution by thirty-nine for, two 
against and five neutral.® 

Rajagopalachari got not bouquets but brickbats from the 
Congress High Command. Nehru called it a “dangerous solu- 
tion.” At no price was he prepared to co-operate with the 
British at this juncture. He was, moreover, definitely opposed to 
the vivisection of India, Indeed, be was thinking in terms of a 

6. Home Political File No. 4/19/42. 

7. Mitra, n. 3, vol. 1, 1942, p* 72, 

8. Home Political File No, d-6. Also Mitr^, n. 3, vol. 1, 1942, 
p, 76. 



federation of India, China, Iran and Afghanistan ; though he 
conceded the principle that separation of a territorial unit could 
not be withheld if a majority of the people demanded it.® Azad 
also disfavoured the move, Kripalani, the Congress general 
secretary, felt that it was tantamount to repudiating the Cong- 
ress aims and its historical past, its struggles and sufferings. 
Only Mian Iftikharuddin, the president of the Punjab Provin- 
cial Congress Committee, praised Rajagopalachari for his bold 
initiative and termed it as a “unity of India move”. B.S. 
Moonje, the Hindu Mahasabha leader, found the move “most 
humiliating”. It was Gandhi who appreciated Rajagopala- 
Chari’s motives : “But his worst enemy will not accuse him of 
any selfish motion behind the extraordinary energy with which 
he has thrown himself into the controversy of which he is the 
author. It reflects the greatest credit on him. He is entitled 
to a respectful hearing. His motive is lofty. 

The CWC outvoted Rajagopalachari’s plan on 28 April 
1942. As a sequel Rajagopalachari resigned from the Working 
Committee on 30 April 1942.^2 AICC (Allahabad, 29 

April to 2 May 1942) rejected his proposal by 120 votes to 15. 
Instead the Committee passed a counter resolution by 92 votes 
to 17. This resolution stressed the Congress determination to 
oppose any scheme giving to any component state or territorial 
unit the freedom to recede from the Indian Union. 

Soon the Congress High Command decided to take 
disciplinary measures against Rajagopalachari. His continua- 
tion as a Congress member in the Madras Legislative Assembly 
was questioned by Vallabhbhai Patel, the president of Congress 
parliamentary board. At his request Gandhi advised Raja- 
gopalachari to sever his connection with the Congress and then 
carry on his campaign with all the zeal and ability he was 
capable of.^^ Directed by the AICC, the Tamilnad Congress 

9. Home Political File No. ibid. 

10. Mitra, n. 3, vol. 1, 1942, p. 83. 

11. M.K. Gandhi, Kar/yow (Ahmedabad), 31 March 1942. 

12. Indian National Congress (Allahabad, AH India Congress Committee, 
1946), pp. 115-6. 

13. Ibid,, p. 11 \ Home Political File No. 97/42. 

14. Gandhi to Rajagopalachari, 5 July 1942, Gandhi Papers 
Memorial Museum, New Delhi). 


Committee proceeded to take disciplinary action against him. 
Thereupon Rajagopalachari, B. Sambamurthy, the ex-speaker, 
Dr. Rajan and Ramanathan, two ex-ministers, and eight others 
resigned their membership from the Assembly.^® 


Facing an identical situation, Gandhi reacted in a totally 
different way. Unlike Rajagopalachari, Gandhi believed that 
national unity could be achieved only by eliminating the third 
party, /.e., the British Government, from the national scene. 
In an inspired moment (on a “Monday of Silence”)» it dawned 
upon him that the only solution possible in the circumstances 
was for the British to leave India. In a lelter to an old British 
(Quaker) friend he referred to Che failure of the Cripps Mission 
and remarked : “The whole thing has left a bad taste in the 
mouth.” He then added : “My firm opinion is that the 
British should leave India now in an orderly manner and not 
run the risk that they did in Singapore and Malaya and Burma. 
The act would mean courage of a high order, confession of 
human limitations and right doing by India. 

Once the idea was born, it gripped Gandhi completely. 
Now he devoted almost all his working time to the elucidation 
and justification of his formula which soon became famous as 
the Quit India demand. He argued that by liberating India 
Great Britain would strengthen the moral stand of the Allied 
powers that they were fighting for freedom and democracy. A 
morally strong United Nations could then expect greater 
sympathy and support from the whole world excluding only the 
Axis camp followers. He believed that peaceful withdrawal 
by Britain from her biggest colony “on the strength of bare 
inherent justice” of the cause would serve as an eye-opener to 
all the warring nations, particularly to the Axis power who 
harboured a deep grudge against the imperialist powers for 
possessing vast colonial dominions. Soon they might realize 
futility of war. With India’s liberation, the decolonising process 

15. Home Political File No. 18/7/42, Fortnightly report, Madras, July 

16. M.K. Gandhi to Horrace Alexander, 22 April 1942. Gandhi Papers, 
op. at. 



would start all over the world. Such a clean and sweeping 
liquidation, of imperialism would indirectly help in burying up 
the fanaticism of Fascism and Nazism. 

A completely diflFerent Gandhi now emerged on the Indian 
political scene. Previously sympathetic to the Allied cause, he 
had become a dcrermined antagonist of the British. 

Apart from the worsening war situation and the British 
refusal to part with power even in that hour of peril, Gandhi 
was upset also by the manner in which British Indian administra- 
tion was carried on in the face of the growing hardships of the 
common people. Due to the severe strain of the war, the 
administrative machinery had collapsed in many places. There 
was a state of ^‘ordered anarchy” prevailing in the country. 
Looting and rape had become the order of the day in certain 
areas, thanks largely to the troop% that were supposed to defend 
the country and its people. Gandhi felt that if he remained a 
mute witness to such incidents, his ‘‘so-called Mahatmaship 
would be ridiculed, dishonoured and lost.’’^^ 

A very bitter and angry man, Gandhi was frustrated with 
so much “hypocrisy, unreality and sham” in the relation 
between the Establishment and the masses, more so as there 
was apparently no way out of this entanglement. The prevailing 
system, it seemed, had eaten up the vitals and manliness of the 
whole nation. The British Government was treating the Indian 
people as chattels. Lacking in patriotism and national inspira- 
tion, the Indian soldiers were fighting like mercenaries. 

Gandhi also realized that his constant exhortations on 
HindU' Muslim unity could not produce any solution. National 
unity would never come so long as the third party continued on 
the scene. Its presence, Gandhi believed, had immeasurably 
aggravated disunity and communal differences. He, therefore, 
came to the conclusion that the only salvation for India lay 
in immediate British withdrawal. For this he was even pre- 
pared to face the risk of a complete breakdown of law and 
order in the country ; out of such chaos some lasting solution 
might emerge. Besides, the Congress and the Muslim League, 
with their organized mass-bases, would soon be able to restore 
order in the country. Also, the Congress, with its non-violent 

17. M.K. Gandhi, “Criminal Assaults”, Harijan^ 1 March 1942. 



force, might command the respect of other forces in society and 
function as a saviour of the country. To eliminate any chance 
of military take-over, Gandhi suggested that the Indian army 
should be disbanded immediately along with the withdrawal of 
the British from India. Any Japanese thrust into India would 
be met by “unadulterated non-violence.”^® 

Could an unarmed India protect herself against the 
Japanese ? Was there any ground to believe that in the wake 
of British withdrawal, the Japanese would not enter into India ? 
How long would the Allied army be able to defend India ? 
One of the British Generals had publicly stated that they could 
not defend the whole of India.*® But Gandhi was convinced 
that powerful non-violent action could change the whole 
situation. The Japanese, if they enroached into India, would 
face a totally non-violent npn-co-operative nation. In such an 
event they would have either to retreat or to exterminate the 
whole nation. The Japanese could hardly face the odium of 
the latter course. 

Acting on this hypothesis, Gandhi prepared a draft 
resolution for consideration by the Congress High Command. 
Meanwhile, he had conditioned the minds of a large section of 
the Congress members by regularly contributing to the Harijan 
articles on the Quit India theme. Many of his followers were 
surprised by the way Gandhi was heading towards a crisis. On 
previous occasions, even after the declaration of war against 
the authorities, Gandhi used to move very slowly, always giving 
an impression that at any moment he might welcome a compro- 
mise. But this time it was different. Nehru, at first, was 
flabbergasted at Gandhi’s stand. He could not compromise his 
hatred for Fascism and Nazism because of his distaste for 

tS. M.K. Gandhi, in Harijan, 26 April, 24 May, 31 May, 7 June, 
\4 3une, 21 3un©, 28 3une and 5 July 1942. 

19. General Moleswoith, Deputy Chief of the General Staff in India, 
said: “Every body in India is asking what are we going to do to 
keep the Japanese out. From the point of view of the Army in the 
enormous battle front we shall hold vital places which it is necessary 
to hold in order to make India safe but we cannot hold everyone.*' 
Harijan, 12 April 1942. 

20. Mahadev Desai, “With Foreign Correspondents’*. Harijan, \9 Apx\\ 




British rule. Nor could he comprehend how a demand for 
immediate British withdrawal in the midst of a life and death 
struggle could bring India’s independence. How could Gandhi 
forestall the inevitable Japanese invasion ? How, after asking 
the British to quit, could the Congress claim that it was follow- 
ing the policy of non-embarrassment ? Nehru was not alone. 
Several others entertained similar misgivings and doubts about 
the efficacy of the Gandhian scheme. 

Knowing Nehru's and Azad’s mental reservations about 
his scheme and knowing that his personal presence would 
hinder a free discussion, Gandhi sent his draft resolution through 
Meera Ben for consideration at the CWC meeting on 27 April 
1942- On the basis of this draft, Rajendra Prasad prepared the 
following resolution : 

Whereas the British War Cabinet’s proposals spon- 
sored by Sir Stafford Cripps have shown up British 
imperialism in its nakedness as never before, the AICC 
has come to the following conclusions : — 

The AICC is of opinion that Britain is incapable 
of defending India. It is natural that whatever she does is 
for her own defence. There is an eternal conflict between 
Indian and British interests. It follows that their notions 
of defence would also differ. The British Government has 
no trust in India’s political parties. The Indian army has 
been maintained up till now mainly to hold India in 
subjugation. It has been completely segregated from the 
general population who can in no sense regard it as their 
own. This policy of mistrust still continues and is the 
reason why national defence is not entrusted to India’s 
elected representatives. 

Japan’s quarrel is not with India. She is warring 
against the British Empire. India’s participation in the 
war has not been with the consent of the representatives 
of the Indian people. It was purely a British act. If 
India were freed her first step would probably be to 
negotiate wtth Japan. The Congress is of opinion that 
if the British withdrew from India, India would be able to 
defend herself in the event of Japanese or any aggressor 
attacking India. 

The AICC is, therefore, of opinion that the British 



should withdraw from India. The plea that they should 
remain in India for protecting the Indian princes is wholly 
untenable. It is additional proof of their determination to 
maintain their hold over India. The princes need have no 
fear from unarmed India. 

The question of majority and minority is a creation 
of the British Government and would disappear oU their 

For all these reasons the Committee appeals to 
Britain, for the sake of her own safety, for the sake of 
India’s safety and for the cause of world peace to let go 
her hold on India even if she does not give up all Asiatic 
and African possessions. 

The resolution further declared that India had no feeling 
of enmity either towards JSpan or towards any other nation. 
The Congress had no pro-Japanese sentiments either. It believed 
that its freedom struggle was essentially its own, and would be 
fought by its own non-violent strength, without any foreign 
military aid. If the Japanese were to attack India, the Congress 
would organize non-violent non-co-operation resistance against 
them. At the same time the resolution made it clear that the 
Congress would not assist the British either. It also disapproved 
of ♦he Scorched Earth policy. Finally it appealed to the 
people to take up the constructive programme whole-heartedly.^i 
A number of Congress leaders including Nehru, Azad, 
Asaf Ali, Bhulabhai Desai and Rajagopalachari were opposed 
to this resolution. On the other hand, persons like Patel, Prasad 
and J.B. Kripalani, famous for following Gandhi’s lead in all 
matters without any questioning, were in favour of it. Among 
the critics, Nehru felt that the resolution was favourable to the 
Japanese. He said : “...It may not be conscious. It is 

Gandhi’s feeling that Japan and Germany will win. This feeling 
unconsciously governs his decision. 

21. Congress Responsibility for the Disturbances 1942^43 (New Delhi, 
Government of India, 1943), pp. 46-8. 

22. Record of the Allahabad meeting of the CWC. Ibid., pp. 42-6- 

According to a Government report, Gandhi was convinced 
(i) that the Axis pviwers would win the war (ii) that the Japanese 
would invade India after the monsoon— which would be a favourable 
opportunity for the Congress to launch civil disob^ience, the inter- 


4 | 

After prolonged discussion on the resolution, Nehru sub- 
mitted a separte draft. Though Rajendra Prasad’s resolution 
was carried and Nehru’s lost, at the president’s (Azad’s) 
intervention the Committee unanimously accepted Nehru’s 
draft.^* This resolution was later endorsed by the AICC at 
Allahabad (29 April to 2 May 1942). 

Like Prasad’s resolution, Nehru’s too drew attention to 
the failure of the Cripps Mission, which had led to great bitter- 
ness in India against the British, and declared that the Congress 
could no longer consider any scheme which retained any element 
of British control or authority in India. The British hold on 
India must be abandoned. It was only on the basis of indepen- 
dence that India could deal with Great Britain or any other 
nation. India’s involvement in the war was the result of a 
purely British act. If India were tree when the war broke out, 
she would have determined her own policy and might have 
kept out of it ; although her sympathies would in any event 
have been with the victims of aggression. At the same time, 
in view of the danger of increasing pro-Japanese sentiment in 
India as a result of bitterness against the British Government, 
the AICC took care to repudiate the idea that freedom could 
come to India through interference or invasion by any foreign 
country, whatever the profession of that country. If such an 
invasion did take place, the Indian people must resist it, through 
non-violent non-co-operation with the invaders, and non- 
interference with the work of the British forces. 

Nehru differed from Gandhi not only over the language 
of his draft resolution, but found himself strongly opposed to 
Gandhi’s entire approach at that critical juncture. He felt that 

vening period being spent in preparing the ground for a mass move- 
ment... By eliminating British control, internal dissensions could be 
healed. Home Political File No. 18/7/42, Fortnightly report, U.P., 
July 1942. 

23. Kripalani writes: “Azad even threatened to resign. The other memberj 
thought that the resignation by the Maulana at that time would com- 
plicate matters.. .In the altered resolution the operative part of 
Gandhi’s draft asking the British to withdraw was omitte-I.** J.B. 
Kripalani, Gandhi : His Life and Thought (New Delhi, Government of 
India, 1970), p, 200. 

24. Congress Bulletin (Allahabad, All India Congress Committee^ n.d.), 
23 May 1942. 



Gandhi's stand was not compatible with anti-fascism. Nehru’s 
predilection for the people of China and Russia was well-known. 
He was mortally afraid that by demanding British withdrawal 
from India, the Congress might jeopardize the national in- 
dependence and security of China. Nehru found it very 
difficult to compromise his international commitment to fight 
against fascism because of the pursuit of India’s immediate 
national objective. Part of Nehru’s difficulty stemmed from 
the fact that he was not prepared to alienate sympathy for 
Indian cause in certain liberal circles in Great Britain and 
America. Chiang Kai-shek, the Chinese leader who had pro- 
Congress sympathies, hoped that in view of the recent reverses 
sustained by the United Nations in Libya the Congress would 
exercise the maximum forbearance and refrain from drastic 
action. This had to be dqne for the comman cause of the 
United Nations so that India could get the sympathy of those 
nations and the Indian problem could be solved.-® 

Lampton Berry, an associate of Colonel Louis Johnson, 
and J.J. Singh, an Indian businessman and journalist, informed 
Nehru about the growing disenchantment of liberal Americans 
towards the Congress cause. Berry remarked ; “I think you 
should know that Mr. Gandhi’s statements are being misunder- 
stood in the United States and being construed as opposing our 
war aims.” J.J. Singh reported that there was a rapid decline in 
American interest and sympathy for the Indian cause. 

Nehru was naturally confused and hesitant. One of his 
friends wrote to him-'’ ; 

I could not understand your position. I felt that logically 
you should— if you wanted to help the war efforts— be 
with C.R. (Rajagopalachari) and it grieved me. Your 
last statement has put heart into me again or I feel you 
will come round to Bapu’s (Gandhi’s) way of action in 
the end and all will be well. We may not have divisions 
in Congress at this juncture— it is too critical. 

25. Chiang Kai-shek to S.H. Shen, 8 June 1942, Ne/iru (Nehru 

Memorial Museum, New Delhi). 

26. Lampton Berry to Nehru, 20 June, and 4 August 1942 and J.J. 
Singh to Nehru, 26 June 1942, Nehru Papers, (Nehru Memorial 
Museum New Delhi). 

27. Rajkumari Amrit Kaur to Jawaharlal Nehru, 22 May 1942, Nehru 
Papers (Nehru Memorial Museum, New Delhi). 



Gandhi, however, knew his mind. He was determined to in- 
sist on British withdrawal from India : “Our course is absolutely 
clear. Risk there is. But attainment of freedom without risk 
is not worth working at.”** Gandhi had hrmly set the tone. 
He expected the Congress to follow his line. 

To discuss the situation and formulate its stand, the CWC 
met at Wardha (7 to 14 July 1942). Gandhi attended the 
sessions and explained his plan. Differences among the 
Congress leaders again came to the surface. Azad, Jawaharlal 
Nehru, G.B. Pant, Syed Mahmud and Asaf Ali had doubts 
about the whole idea of a struggle at that time. They felt that 
China, Russia and America (all were now allied with Britain) 
would misunderstand Congress intentions, and the Congress would 
be labelled as a Japanese ally by British propagandists. Besides 
there was every possibility that the*Government would suppress 
the movement in a ruthless manner. But the dissenting 
members had no alternative plan to offer to meet the external 
threat. Gandhi told them that if they declined to become a 
party “to the hazardous plan of action proposed by him” he 
would go alone. He suggested that the Congress could, how- 
ever, pass a resolution to the effect that such Congressmen and 
others, who agreed with his plan of action, should help him 
by joining his satyagraha movement. 

Gandhi had struck at the right psychological and political 
moment. Nobody could think of losing him at that critical 
moment. Gandhi “at last convinced Jawaharlal that what he 
proposed was the only way to meet the situation created by the 
obstinacy of the Imperial Government, which was ready to lose 
India to the Japanese rather than do the right thing, even in its 
hour of the greatest peril.” Other members too felt like Nehru 
and saw the resolution in this light.** 

Nehru himself tells us that “...Gandhiji's general 
approach. ..seemed to ignore important international con- 
siderations and appeared to be based on a narrow view of 
nationalism...” Nehru mainly tried to convince Gandhi that 

28. M.K. Gandhi to Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, 2 June 1942, Gandhi Papers 
(Gandhi Memorial Museum, New Delhi). 

29. Kripalani, n. 23, pp. 201-2. 

30. Jawaharlal Nehru, The Discovery of India (Bombay, 1969), p. 473. 



any effective mass movement was bound to interfere with the 
war-effort, and that indirectly it wou/d help the enemy. In 
Nehru’s words^o : 

Our mutual discussion led to a clarification of much that 
had been vague and cloudy, and to Gandhiji’s appreciation 
of many international factors to which his attention was 
drawn... But the fundamental attitude remained : his 
objection to a passive submission to British autocratic and 
repressive policy in India and his intense desire to do 
something to challenge this. 

Abul Kalam Azad, too, in his memoirs, mentions his 
differences with Gandhi on this issue, and says that Gandhi 
asked both him and Nehru to resign from the CWC. Gandhi 
sent a letter saying that hisMand was so different from Azad’s 
that they could not work together. If the Congres wanted 
Gandhi as the leader of the movement Azad must resign 
from the presidentship and also withdraw from the Working 
Committee. Jawaharlal also must do the same.^^ 

The differences between Gandhi and Nehru were soon 
adjusted. Nehru, who had been already marked out as the 
political heir to Gandhi, felt it was not honourable for him to 
stand apart as an onlooker while a fight went on between the 
British rulers on the one hand and the Indian people on the 
other. Besides, the might have also considered it impolitic to 
defy Gandhi’s leadership at that moment and thus impair his 
future prospects as the leader of the Indian people. Following 
his example, Azad and others, too, holding views similar to his, 
lined up behind Gandhi. 

The Working Committee (7 to 14 July 1942) passed two 
important resolutions. The first resolution contained some 
guidelines to the people to meet the situation caused by large 
scale evacuation of persons from affected areas due to seizure of 
private property by the Government for war needs. It demanded 
that no one should be required to vacate his house unless proper 
arrangements had been made for the evacuees. It added that 
compensation should be paid promptly on the spot and not at 

31. Abul Kakm Azed, India Ftetdcm (Calcutta, 1959), p. 7^. 



the district headquarters. 

Dealing with the “National Demand”, the second resolu- 
tion was to form later the basis of the “Quit India” resolution. 
It called for immediate termination of British rule not only 
because foreign domination, even at its best, per se was a 
continuing evil for the subject people, but also because India in 
bondage could play no effective part in defending herself and 
in shaping the fortunes of the war that was desolating humanity. 
The Congress was eager to avoid the experience of Singapore, 
Malaya and Burma ; to transform Indian resentment against 
Great Britain into goodwill ; and to make India a willing partner 
in a joint enterprise of securing the freedom of the world. But 
India’s co-operation was possible only if she felt the glow of 
freedom. The Congress had no desire to emabrrass Britain or 
other Allied powers in their prosecution of the war, or to 
encourage a Japanese invasion of India, or to add to the 
pressure on China. It would agree to the stationing in India 
of Allied troops in order to ward off Japanese or other 
aggression and to help China. Should, however, the British 
refuse to quit India, the Congress would not see with equanimity 
the consequent deterioration of the Indian situation and the 
weakening of India’s will and power to resist aggression. It 
would be compelled to start a widespread struggle on non- 
violent lines under Gandhi’s leadership. It was decided that 

32. Indian National Congress Report, n. 12, po. 117-20; also Co/i^rm 
Bulletin (Allahabad, All India Congress Committee, n.d.), 1 Novem- 
ber 1945. 

33. Ihid,pp. 120-4. 

Though the resolution embodying Gandhi’s line, was unanimously 
passed, some of the members had mental reservations. Syed Mahmud 
wrote a letter to the Viceroy after some time from the Ahmednagar 
Fort, stating among other things, that he had been against the resolu- 
tion and had resigned from the Working Committee. J.B. Kripalaoi 
believes that even Maulana Azad, the Congress president bad not 
wholeheartedly accepted the Quit India resolution. Kripalani also 
states that besides Syed Mahmud and Maulana Azad, Asaf Ali, 
Jawaharlal Nehru and GoVind Ballabh Pant were also critical of the 
resolution. According to him, the controversy was not about violence 
and non-violence, but about how the movement would be understood 
by America, China and Russia which had impressed upon Britain the 
need to grant India sufficient freedom to be able to help the Allied 
qtuse- Kripalani, n. 23, pp. 203-4* 



this decision of the Working Committee would be placed for 
approval before the AICC, which would meet in Bombay from 
7 August 1942, 


The demand for British withdrawal and the threat of a 
non-violent mass movement if this demand was not met sent 
a wave of excitement and unrest throughout the country. 
Apart from the rank and file of the Congress, the Congress 
Socialists, the Forward Blocists and other leftist elements, 
excluding the Communists, welcomed the Congress stand and 
eagerly looked forward to the launching of the movement. But 
there also followed a spate of adverse and hostile reactions both 
within and outside the country. The Congress leadership, 
however, stuck to its position that the immediate cessation of 
foreign rule was demanded not to embarrass the British, but to 
enable India to defend herself and to lend whole-hearted 
support to the Allies. 

But the critics treated the Congress stand as irrelevant and 
irrational. They could not comprehend how the Congress 
could adopt such a stand after its Poona and Bardoli offers. 
To the Times of India Gandhi seemed to be living in another 
planet, completely oblivious to the facts of life. “It is useless 
to argue in the midst of world cataclysm with a man whose 
statements are reductio ad absurdum. We suggest that 
Mr. Gandhi should retire completely from political affairs and 
devote himself to philanthropic works. 

The Eastern Times alleged that the Congress wanted to 
sell India to Japan : “People are asking whether this move at 
this grave juncture is not the result of some secret understanding 
between Gandhi and Axis powers on the lines perhaps that the 
Japanese should not bomb Indian towns but meet with a ready 
welcome on arrival... 

The Dflwn, the Muslim League paper, warned that in the 
event of British withdrawal the rule of the jungle would be 
promulgated in India. It was unbelievable that the Axis 

34. Times of India (Bombay), 19 May 1942, 

35. Eastern Times (Cuttack), 19 July 1942, 



Powers should wait patiently until India had had its taste of 
anarchy. The resolution was a challenge not only to the 
British Government and the United Nations, but also to the 
other parties in India.** 

The Independent India of M.N. Roy wrote that the resolu- 
tion was “just playing to the gallery, an attempt to hoodwink 
ill-informed liberal elements in England and America...”*’ 

Tej Bahadur Sapru, the Liberal leader, had said much 
earlier that the time had come when the Mahatma in decency 
should retire from politics.** After the publication of the 
Wardha resolution several Liberal leaders openly questioned 
the wisdom of the Congress leadership. Cbimanlal Setalvad 
was not sure whether the Congress leadership was practising 
colossal self-deception or trying to fool the people. Hriday 
Nath Kunzru, president of the S%rvants of India Society, warned 
that the “...launching of a mass civil disobedience movement 
would be detrimental to the best interests of the country.”*® 

Asserting that the resolution had created “a most 
dangerous and most serious situation in the country,”*® Jinnah 
charged Gandhi of attempting to establish Congress-Hindu 
domination over the Muslims and other minorities. He further 
said that Gandhi might threaten, intimidate and coerce a 
distressed and shaken Britain by this “big move.” But, Jinnah 
added, the League would not be deflected from the cherished goal 
of Pakistan.*^ The Hindu Mahasabha was also not in favour 
of any movement at this moment. Representing the depressed 
classes, Ambedkar said; “ would be madness to weaken 
law and order when the barbarians are at our gates.” His 
colleague, P.N. Rajbhoj, even threatened to start a counter- 
satyagraha against Gandhi’s satyagraha*^ The Communists 

36. Dawn (Delhi), 19 July 1942. 

37. Independent India (De\hi), 22 July 1942. 

38. Tej Bahadur Sapru to B. Shiva Rao, 28 May 1942, Home Political 
File No. 220/42. 

39. Mitra. n. 3, vol. 2, 1942, pp. 10, 12. 

40. Ihid., p. 10. 

41 . Home Political File No. 18161^^2, Fortnightly report, Bombay, June 

42. Home Political File No. 18/7/42, Fortnightly report, C.P„ July 

The president of the Natippgl pemppr^tic Upion said that th^y 



neither denounced nor supported the Congress for adopting such 
a course. But they clearly stated that the root cause of the 
deadlock was “the refusal of British die-hards to recognize 
Indian independence and implement it here and now.”^® 

Chinese and American reactions to the proposed movement 
were also unfavourable. This was so in spite of attempts by 
Nehru and Azad to improve the image of the Congress by 
giving various pro-Allied interpretations to its demand. Gandhi 
himself had somewhat modified his emphasis, perhaps in 
deference to Nehru’s pleadings, and to a belief in some Congress 
circles that America or China or both might put pressure on 
Britain to come to terms with nationalist India. Without 
deviating from his insistence on British withdrawal, Gandhi 
stressed that he was not playing tne Axis game. Already, in 
June 1942, he had written “(IF). is deemed necessary 
by the Allies to remain in India to prevent Japanese occupation, 
they should do so, subject to such conditions as may be 
prescribed by the national government that may be set up after 
the British withdrawal. Gandhi had also assured the Chinese 
that India would not commit national suicide by letting down 
the Allied powers. Any demand for withdrawal of the Allied 
troops during the pendency of the war itself being an act of 
violence, it was imperative to keep the Allied troops in India to 
defend her frontiers " 

In order to clarify his position still further, Gandhi ad- 
dressed an open letter to the Japanese. Since it was not the 
intention of the Congress to select this particular moment to 
embarrass the Allies, he warned the Japanese that they would 
not receive “a willing welcome” from Indians. He condemned 

would not allow the country to be betrayed by a misguided visionary 
like Gandhi. R. Coupland, Indian Politics Part If, 1935-42 (Oxford, 
1944), p. 295. 

Jamnadas Mehta of All India Nationalist Congress said : “...the 
recent resolution of the Congress Working Committee is most in- 
opportune in view of imminent danger of foreign invasion-*' The 
Hindu (Madras), 1 August 1942. 

43. P.C. Joshi’s (General Secretary, the Communist Party of India) 
statement, The Hindu, 5 August 1942. 

44. M.K. Gandhi, “A Poser”, Harijan, 28 June 1942. 

45. M.K. Gandhi to Chiang Kai-Shek, 14 June 1942, Hindustan Times (New 
P^Ifai), 15 August 194?. 



the Japanese attack on China, and reiterated that Free India was 
willing to Jet the Allies retain their troops in India. The offer 
was made in order to prove that the Congress did not in any 
way mean to harm the Allied cause and to disabuse the Japan- 
ese of a possible feeling that they had but to step into the 
country that Britain had vacated.'** 

Reassuring the Chinese people, Gandhi told them that 
India’s liberation would further strengthen their defence.*^ 

In a personal letter to Chiang Kai-Shek, Gandhi said that 
he would not take any hasty step and try to avoid a conflict 
with the British. But in regard to India’s freedom, he would 
be willing to face the most hazardous difficulties.*® 

These assurances to China and other Allied powers, in 
fact, constituted appeals for their joint or individual interven- 
tion with the British on India’s behalf. It was implied that if 
they intervened the Congress could still continue its policy 
of non-embarrassment. Otherwise it would be forced to launch 
a mass civil disobedience movement.** 


Even after the passing of the Wardha resolution, some 
efforts were made to dissuade Gandhi from taking the deep 
plunge. The four dissident Congress leaders of Madras, C. 
Rajagopalachari, K. Santhanam, S. Ramanathan and T.S. 
Rajan, conveyed to Gandhi their misgivings about the success of 
the whole move. To them, at that moment, a power vacuum was 
neither possible nor desirable. They did not like the threat of 
anarchy inherent in a mass movement at that stage. They point- 
ed out that the authorities would not allow the movement to 
proceed under central direction in an orderly fashion, and 
added: “when responsible leaders are removed and their guid- 
ance is no longer available, the movement can easily be taken 

46. M.K. Gandhi, “To Every Japanese”, Harijan, 26 July 1942. 

47. The Hindu, 8 August 1942 

48. M.K. Gandhi to Chiang Kai-Shek, 14 June 1942, Hindua'an Times, 
15 August 1942. 

49. M.K. Gandhi, “To Americep Friends” Barijeu, 9 August 194^, 



advantage of by the enemy and be converted into a fifth column 
activity on his behalf.”®® 

Tej Bahadur Sapru came out with a positive 'suggestion. 
He wanted a Round Table Conference of leaders of all parties 
and communities to be organised for the removal of the existing 
tension. He also appealed to the Indian members of the Vice- 
roy’s Executive Council to contribute to the solution of the 
deadlock.®^ Not prepared to be deflected from his set course 
at that stage, Gandhi rejected the suggestion. 

It was not yet clear, however, as to what shape the move- 
ment was expected to take. Some indication of it was first 
given by Vallabhbhai Patel in June 1942. Speaking at a public 
meeting at Ahmedabad, he hinted that the proposed movement 
would include all the items adopted in the previous movements 
— from strikes to boycott, and civil resistance. Short and swift, 
the struggle would be over within a week.®^ Nehru expected the 
the coming movement to be unique in Congress history, and 
hoped that everyone, irrespective of socio-political distinctions, 
would participate in it.®® Yusuf Meharally, the Congress 
Socialist leader, said that commitment to India’s freedom would 
be the only qualification for participation in the movement.®^ 
After the Wardha meeting of the CWC (14 July 1942), 
the Congress High Command issued instructions for large scale 
enrolment of volunteers and asked provincial and district com- 
mittees to get prepared for the coming movement. From 14 
July to 5 August, the Congress president carried on a series of 
discussions with Congress leaders from different parts of the 
country, and impressed upon them the need to conduct the 
movement strictly according to Gandhi’s instructions— in case 

50. Congress Responsibility^ n. 21, pp. 49-50. 

51. Home Political File No. 3/J0/42. 

52. Home Political File No. 18/6/42, Fortnightly report, Bombay, June 

53. Home Political File No. 18/7/42, Fortnightly report, U P., June 1942. 

54. Home Political File No. 3/101/42. 

According to a Government Intelligence report (30 May 1942), 
Gandhi was prepared to take full responsibility for the movement. He 
sent Khurshed Ben Naoroji, Mecia Ben, Ram MsnobarLohia ird 
Mridula Sarabhai to carry out propaganda and to prepare the ground 
in Bengal, Orissa and Bombay for the er suing moverneut, 

Mwt^erph, n. I, vol. 2, p. 154, 


the Government allowed them the freedom to function. 
But if the Government arrested Gandhi and the other Congress 
leaders, “the people would be free to adopt any method, violent 
or non-violent, to oppose the violence of the Government in 
every possible way.” These instructions were secret and never 
made public.®^ 

According to an official report, Patel had advised the mill- 
owners of Ahraedabad to paralyse the textile industry at the time 
of the movement. The Textile Labour Association was already 
engaged in secret propaganda. The cloth market mahajans were 
contemplating a long strike extending over two months in case 
Gandhi was arrested. The Congress was also busy wooing the stu- 
dent community. It was generally believed that non-payment of 
taxes, anti-war propaganda, general strikes to hamper war produc- 
tion, the refusal to evacuate areas nequired by military authorities 
and the establishment of a parallel Congress government would 
be included in the programme. Like the leftist elements, the right 
wing Congress leadership was also carrying on propaganda in 
favour of a general defiance of the law, boycotts, strikes, non- 
rent campaigns and hunger strikes.^^^ The Andhra Provincial 
Congress Committee, in one of its circulars to the District 
Congress Committees (29 July 1942), adumbrated a six-stage 
programme. Including all the well-known Gandhian protest 
tactics like picketting, boycotting, non -cooperation, non- 
payment of revenues, it contained a remarkable innovation in 
that it advocated the cutting of telegraph and telephone wires. 
Though it was expected that Gandhi would inaugurate the 
movement within a few hours after the scheduled meeting of 
the AICC in Bombay, no action would be taken unless Gandhi 
had given the call. Meanwhile organisational preparations has 
to be made, and morale maintained at a high pitch. 

55. Azad, n. 31, pp. 61-82. 

56. Home Political File No. 18/7/42, Fortnightly report, Bombay. July 

57. Congress Responsibility, n. 21, pp. 55-6. 

This circuljr was issued in the name of Kala Venkata Rao, Gene- 
ral Secretary, Andhra Provincial Congrtis Committee. 

Pattabhi Sitaramayya, a Congress leader from Andhra, in a press 
statement at Bezwada on 18 July 1945 took credit and full responsibi- 
lity for the aforesaid circular. H€ said that all the instructiems contained 



The Congress, it is clear, was preparing for the worst 
eventuality, and considering ways of sustaining popular interest 
in the movement. Finding that jail-going had becom^ too com- 
mon and stale a device, the U.P. Congress Committee 
mentioned in its instructions (24 July 1942) to workers: “It is 
likely that the first step in the movement will be an all- 
India hartal, something of the nature of the famous hartat of 
April 6, 1919. . . In the ultimate analysis every worker may 
have to be a self-suflScient entity carrying on the programme 
to the best of his ability.” For effective organization, the pro- 
vince was to be divided into five zones with headquarters at 
Banaras, Kanpur, Lucknow, Meerut and Muradabad.^® 

Gandhi’s own thinking was along the following lines; 

(a) There should be an all India hartal, 

(b) All freedom loving Indians should join the struggle. 

(c) Students should leave Government-contorlled educa- 
tional institutions. 

(d) People should break the salt laws and refuse to pay 
the land-taxes. 

(e) At a later stage Government employees should also 

(f) Members of central and provincial assemblies and 
municipalities should vacate their seats. 

(g) As a last resort, every Congressman would be his 
own leader and a servant of the whole nation. Every 
satyagrahi should vow that he would either be free or 
would die in the attempt to make himself so. 

These ideas were discussed in the CWC on 7 August 
1942, but not finally adopted.^® The Congress leadership had 
thus failed to draw up a detailed programme of action by the 
time the AICC adopted the Quit India resolution. After that 
it was too late. 

in it had the approval of Gandhi expect the one pertaining to the 
cutting of telegraph wires, which was not prohibited though not re- 
commended. Home Political File No. 18/7/45, Fortnightly report, 
Madras, July 1945. 

5S. Home Political File No. 3/31/42. 

59, Home Political File No. 3/24/45. 



The AICC met in Bombay on 7 August 1942. It was 
attended by 250 members. The main resolution, which became 
famous as the Quit India resolution, was moved by Jawaharlal 
Nehru and seconded by Vallabhbhai Patel. It was carried by a 
big majority, only a few Communist members (12) opposing it. 
Abul Kalam Azad, at the very beginning, remarked : ‘‘Let us 
have a declaration of Indian Independence forthwith and we, 
on our part, shall, immediately enter into a Treaty of Alliance 
with the United Nations for the sole purpose of fighting and 
winning this war.” To dispel British and American doubts, he 
clarified that the Quit India demand stood only for transfer 
of power.®^^ Gandhi appealed to the United Nations and Britain 
to declare India free and pro^e their bona fides. Here was 
“the opportunity of a life-time,” he warned, “which never comes 
twice in the same generation, and history will say that they did 
not discharge their overdue debt to India.”^i 

The AICC reiterated that India’s defence was cracking up 
due to the continuation of British rule, and that the whole- 
hearted participation of the masses in the war effort could only 
be secured by immediatly ending that rule. The Committee 
affirmed that the primary functions of a provisional National 
Government would be “ defend India and resist aggression 
with all the armed as well as the non-violent forces at its 
command, together with the Allied powers...” 

The Committee also felt sanguine that India’s freedom 
would be a prelude to the independence of all the Asian colonies 
of Western powers. It looked forward to the formation of a 
world Federation of free nations which would prevent aggression 
and exploitation by one nation over another ; guarantee the 
protection of national minorities ; and help the advancement of 
all backward areas and peoples, and the pooling of the world’s 
resources for the common good of all. The goal of disarma- 
ment would also materialize through a world federation. For 
keeping international peace, the Committee suggested the 
formation of a World Federation Defence Forces.®^ 

60. The flindu,% August 1942. 

61. Ibid,^ 10 August 1942. 

62* Indian National Congress Report, o. 12, pp. 29-35. 



All this was, of course, said to impress world opinion. 
So far as the main demand was concerned, the Quit India 
resolution made it clear that there could be no going back on it. 
Gandhi reflected this mood of the Congress in his s'peech of 
8 August : “Even if all the United Nations oppose me, even if 
the whole of India tried to persuade me that I am wrong, even 
then I will go ahead, not for India’s sake alone, but for the sake 
of the world... 

It seems, however, that Gandhi was contemplating to have 
a gap of one to two weeks before launching the movement. 
His plan was to seek an interview with the Viceroy. The 
Congress president was to write to the heads of the major 
Allied powers informing them of the Congress decision. May 
be Gandhi was expecting that the proposed move would serve as 
a warning to the Government and oblige it to come to terms 
with the Congress. He felt sure that the Government would 
not precipitate matters by resorting to immediate action. 


Gandhi’s assessment was unfounded. While he had been 
speaking and writing about the Quit India demand, the British 
authorities had been considering ways and means of dealing 
with him and the Congress. 

By the first week of June 1942, Linlithgow had realised 
that Gandhi was in a determined mood and he might launch a 
movement on his own even if he could not carry the Working 
Committee with him. “Present indications are that he will 
throw off all pretensions of non-embarrassment, declare himself 
openly anti-British...”®^ Opposed to any hasty measure, the 
Viceroy argued that official action against the Congress would at 

63. The Hindu, 10 August 1942. 

In the concluding session of the AICC, Gandhi said : “If I wait 
any longer, God will punish me. 1 am not speaking for India alone. 
This is the last struggle of my life. Delay is injurious and waiting 
any further would be humiliation for all of us It is high time that 
we are free so that we can help other nations struggling for freedom.’* 

64. Government of India’s (Home Department) letter to Secretary of 
State for India, 7 June 1942, Mansergh. o. 1, voJ. 2, p. 188. 


that stage enable Gandhi to strengthen his movement. The 
Viceroy was also afraid that he might eventually have to eat the 
humble pie by being obliged to come to terms with the Congress. 
Then there was the risk that by proscribing the Congress, he 
might encourage the latter to take the line of “the Sinn Fein 
movement in Ireland to develop their own parallel and 
opposing system.”®* 

For the time being, at any rate, he would avoid a con- 
frontation with the Congress if he could do so without 
imparing the war-effort. Should the Congress attitude, however, 
force him “to take them on”, he was prepared to employ the 
utmost vigour and arrest the top Congress leadership including 
Gandhi.®® But he would not hit at them prematurely lest they 
should advertise themselves as martyrs before having been fully 
exposed to British and Americ^ public opinion. As late as 
1 1 July 1942, Linlithgow confided to the Governor of Punjab®^ : 
...if he does really start serious business, we should have 
to be prepared to deal with him with the gloves off.,. 
He has been pushed off his slogan of a month ago. It is 
now so covered with interpretations by the Mahatma that 
it would defy the wit of any man to discover what exactly 
it meant at the present day... I still find it a little 
difficult to believe that they will take on an out-and-out 
campaign against us. I think it much more likely that 
Gandhi will continue to frame resolutions designed to 
make our blood curdle and to keep public nerves on the 
stretch, but to avoid any major battle, and to have ready 
as many avenues of escape as he can, if he finds that his 
new nostrum is not going as it should. 

Himself disfavouring immediate strong action against the 

65. Linlithgow to Amery, 15 June 1942, ibid., p. 214. 

He added : *‘If Congress or any other organized political party, 
however obnoxious its leaders may be, docs in fact represent an 
organization sufficiently powerful to be able to speak with authority 
for a vast proportion of the electors in this country, its view cannot be 
ignored ; and the difficulty which 1 have felt in the past about com- 
mitting ourselves to a line of policy in regard to it from which we 
might have to resile with grave loss of face does not seem to me to 
be much less than it was in the past," Ibid., pp. 213-4. 

66. Linlithgow to Amery, 26 June 1942, ibid., p. 273. 

67. Linlithgow to B. Glancy, 11 July 1942, ibid,, p . 367-8, 


Congress, Linlithgow was under constant pressure to do so 
from the Secretary of State for India, the Home Member and 
most of the Provincial Governors to smash the^ Congress 
organization as soon as possible. The Home Member seemed 
pretty categorical : “We should let Congress know that in face 
of their hostile attitude we will have no further dealings with 
them as a political party either now or in the future...”®® 
H. Twynam, Governor of the Central Provinces, argued that the 
psychological moment had arrived to drop the policy of appease- 
ment. Fed up with Gandhi’s “cbscuranlist, impractical and 
anti'British leadership”, he wondered “how long are we going to 
allow this Britain-hater to stage subversive moment after subver- 
sive moment.”®® M. Hallett, Governor of U.P., reminded the 
Governor-General that the heavens had not fallen when Gandhi 
was arrested in the past. If anything, in the time of war, delayed 
action meant risk.’® More “radical” than his colleagues, A. Hope, 
Governor of Madras, suggested that if the movement came to 
anything, Gandhi, “the villain of the piece”, should at once be 
arrested and secretly exiled to Mauritius or Kenya. Even if he 
undertook fast or died, the fact should not be publicised. The 
news of his death should be announced after six months. Hope 
wanted the convicted Congress leaders to be treated as common 
criminals and not as political prisoners. 

Only R. Lumley, Governor of Bombay, appreciated the 
Viceroy’s concern for avoiding precipitate action. Since he 
expected the Congress to split if Gandhi insisted on going 
ahead with his projected move, Lumley comfortably suggested : 
“We could afford to let him do his worst and allow opinion to 
turn against him without giving him the halo of martyrdom 
which action against him would provide.”’*^ 

Realising that the Indian situation was turning from bad 
to worse, the Secretary of State, Amery, was convinced of the 
imminence of a mass movement by the increasingly implacable 
attitude of the Congress towards the Government. He felt 
perturbed and started pleading for a tough line against the 

68. Linlithgow to Amery, 15 June 1942, ibid.^ p. 205, 

69. H. Twynam (C.P.) to Linlithgow, 9 June 1942, ibid,, p. 196. 

70. M. Hallett (U.P.) to Linlithgow, 16 June 1942, ibid., p. 222. 

71. A. Hope (Madras) to Linlithgow, 23 July 1942, ibid,, p. 443. 

72. R. Lumley (Bombay) to Linlitngow. 6 June 1942, ibid,, p. 187. 


5 ^ 

Congress. He wrote to the Viceroy : “There is, I fear, a real 
danger of the old man’s wounded vanity and Nehru’s unreason- 
ing bitterness drawing the two together into something near 
open revolution.”’^ He implored the Viceroy to arrest Gandhi 
and other Congress leaders immediately even without referring 
to him.’^ Amery wanted these leaders to be politically incapa- 
citated by being deported to places far away from India. He was 
particularly insistent on the deportation of Gandhi to Uganda 
(The Burmese leader U. Saw was detained there). Regarding 
Gandhi, Amery argued, perhaps naively. “As long as he is in 
India the Press will be talking about him daily, whereas if he 
disappears there just will not be anything to say, and he can 
then fast to death or do what he likes. The same remedy may 
also have to be applied to Nehru and such others...”’^ 

Gradually Linlithgow, too^ veered round to this line of 
thinking. He agreed with Amery that “a dramatic move of 
this nature might well produce a deep impression on followers 
of the Congress.”’® His idea was to despatch fifteen leaders by 
air to Uganda, using the Arabian route, via Muscat, Aden and 
Khartoum.” He was more particular about deporting Nehru 
and Vallabhbhai Patel.’® But Linlithgow’s plan was slightly 
upset by the discovery that, suffering from high blood pressure, 
Gandhi and many other senior Congress leaders were medically 
unfit to undertake a long air journey. It was, therefore, 
arranged that a war ship would be made available at Bombay 
by 8 August, “to convoy small number of political prisoners 
to Kilindini for Uganda.”’® 

Soon another difficulty arose. In Uganda the Indian com- 
munity was in a quite dominant position. The presence of Indian 
leaders might cause hostile reactions there. Nyasaland was 
thought of as a possible alternative, and the Colonial Secretary, 
Viscount Cranborne, was requested by the Secretary of State 

73. Amery to Linlithgow, 29 May 1942. ibid., pp. 142-3. 

74. Ibid., 28 May 1942, p. 141. 

75. Ibid., 17 June 1942. p. 225. 

76. Linlithgow to Amery, 19 July 1942, ibid., p. 410. 

77. Linlithgow to Amery, 2l July 1942, ibid., p. 424. 

78. Linlithgow to all Provincial Governors, 27 July 1942, ibid,, pp. 466-7. 

79. Commandcr-vn-Chlef Eastern Fleet to First Sea Lord, 29 luly 1942» 
ibid.fP. 494, 


for India to make preliminary arrangements with the local 
Government. In the case of Gandhi, it was decided to send 
him first to Aden ; from there he might be sent to Australia or 
Sudan. The War Cabinet discussed the matter on August 
1942, and approved of Gandhi’s deportation. It was also 
resolved that the final responsibility for Gandhi would rest with 
His Majesty’s Government.®® On board the ship Gandhi would 
be accompanied not only by medical attendents but also by an 
officer empowered to take decisions on behalf of the Govern- 
ment of India in case of an emergency. Such an unequivocal 
exercise of British authority was expected to destroy the legend 
of Gandhi’s power of defiance.®^ 

Initially in favour of the move, Linlithgow later developed 
doubts about Gandhi’s fitness to make the trip to Aden. Quite 
apart from the physical stram involved in a long air or sea 
journey, internment in a foreign country would cause difficulties 
over food and medical attention. So the Viceroy, in consultation 
with the Bombay Governor, decided that Gandhi would be 
detained in a comfortable house somewhere in Bombay. Later 
the Bombay Governor suggested that Gandhi and his party 
could stay at the Aga Khan’s house at Yervada near Poona.®- 
Once it was clear that Gandhi could not be deported, 
Linlithgow saw no use in deporting other Congress leaders. 
Once the idea of deportation had been rendered partially im- 
practicable, other considerations against it started acquiring a 
new significance. Deportation of the Congress leaders, it was 
realised, might cause adverse reaction in America; and the 
Indian members of the Viceroy’s Executive Council, “in their 
present excited and nervous frame of mind,” were least likely to 
support deportation.®® 

Government was considering the forts of Dargai, Attock 
and Ahraednagar for confining the Congress leaders.®^ The main 
object of this scheme was to render the movement abortive, as 
well as ' to discredit and immobilize leaders, while doing as little 

80. Minutes of War Cabinet, 6 August 1942, ibid, p. 588. 

81. Amery to Linlithgow, 7 August 1942, ibid, p. 596. 

82. Linlithgow to Amery, 26 June 1942, ih/t/., pp. 272-3 and R. Lumley 
(Bombay), to Linlithgow, 17 July 1942, ibid , p. 406. 

83- Linlithgow to Amery, 7 August 1942, ibid,, p. 597. 

84. Ibid., 9, 511. 



as possible to antagonise rank and file, and to stress preventive 
character of action taken.”®* 

To avoid publicity and the excitement of trials, it was de- 
cided to arrest and detain the Congress leaders under Defence 
Rule 26 or 129. It was at first proposed that Gandhi would be 
detained under Regulation 111 of 1818 ; but the idea was dropped 
on the ground that the use of a century-old regulation might 
cause adverse reaction in America.®* 

While the CWC at Wardha was debating whether it 
should go ahead with the Quit India demand, the Governor- 
General was, on 11 July i942, reminding the provincial Govern- 
ments to be ready to follow the line that he had prescribed on 
2 August 1940. This was a reference to the Emergency Powers 
Ordinance of 1940. The Viceory said: “Even if use of Ordinance 
proves unnecessary, prompt atrest of leaders may be essential 
and it is desirable threfore that your A and B list should be 
reviewed and held in readiness.”*’ 

After the adoption of the Quit India resolution by the 
CWC at Wardha, the Governor-General-in- Council met on 29 
July 1942 to formulate its line of action. The Governor Gene- 
ral indicated that he was contemplating the arrest of Gandhi, 
along with all the members of the Working Committee and 
selected members of the AICC. The arrests were deferred till 8 
August. The Council empowered the Viceroy to take “very 
rapid and drastic action” to meet the situation. The Viceroy 
told the Council that since Gandhi “meant business” this time, 
there would be very little time between the AICC session and the 
commencement of the movement. The general tenor of opinion 
within the Council was that there should be mass arrests of 
Congress leaders. Some members emphasized the importance 
of keeping them under prolonged detention.®® Speaking in the 
House of Commons on 30 July 1942, Amery reiterated that the 
Government of India would crush any movement caused by the 

84. Government of India (Home Department) to Secretary of State for 
India, 3 August 1942, I’Wrf , p. 536. 

86 Ibid. p. 449. Also, Amery to Linlithgow, 24 July 1942, ibid., p. 452, 
and Government of India (Home Departn.em) to Secretary of State, 

3 August 1942, ibid , p. 534. 

87. Home Political File No. 3/12/42. 

88. Ibid., No, 4/7/43. 



Congress action. He also said that the Congress demand could 
not be accepted because that would “completely disrupt the 
Governmental machinery in one of the most vital theatres of 
the war’\8» 

The Government of India divided its plan of dealing with 
the movement into three stages: (i) to avert, (ii) to abort, and 
(iii) to suppress. In the first stage, the Government would 
avoid taking action till the Bombay meeting (7 August 1942). 
The second stage would commence immediately after the ratifi- 
cation of the “Quit India” resolution by the AICC. At this 
stage, all the provincial Governments would proclaim the AICC 
and the Provincial Congress Committees as unlawful bodies 
under the Criminal Law Amendment Act. The Congress as a 
whole would not be declared illegal. Gandhi and members of 
the Congress Working Committee would be arrested simul- 
taneously. The Government would denounce the Congress 
leadership in strong terms. The Provincial Governments would 
seize Congress Committee offices and funds, and arrest all 
provincial leaders and organizers of any importance. In 
the third stage, the whole Congress organization would be 
declared unlawful, and Emergency Powers Ordinance, 1940, 

Thus whether Gandhi “meant business” or not, the 
Government certainly did. Its plans were ready by 3 August 
1942, full four days before the AICC meeting commenced in 
Bombay. A day before the “zero hour” (8 August 1942), the 
Government circulated a “strictly secret” memorandum to the 
provincial Governments. It was mentioned therein that the 
Government had acquired “a great deal of information, 
of varying degrees of reliability,” about Gandhi’s propos- 
ed movement. It was suspected that Gandhi was plan- 
ning for a mass revolt. In that case it felt the necessity 
for immediate promulgation of the Emergency Powers 

89. UK, Commons, Parliamentary Debates, series 5, vol. 382, session 
1942, cols 674-5. 

90. Government of India (Home Department) to Secretary of State fpr 
India, 24 July 1942, Mansergh, n. 1, vol, 2, p. 449, 



Ordinance 1940.” 

This was the background of the swift and sharp action 
launched by the Government early in the morning of 9 August 
1942, contrary to the expectation of the Congress leaders, who 
were in fact looking forward to fresh parleys with the Victeroy. 

91. “Zero hour" was fixed at 5 A-M. on 9 August 1942. Home Political 
File No. 3/15/52, 



A DDRESSING the All Infiia Congress Committee meeting on 
8 August 1942, Gandhi clearly told his audience ; “...the 
usual struggle does not commence this moment. You have 
only placed your powers in my hands. I will now wait upon 
the Viceroy and plead with him for the acceptance of the 
Congress demand.” It was expected that two to three weeks’ 
time would be required to carry out negotiations with the 
Government.! Next morning, on 9 August, the Congress Work- 
ing Committee was to discuss in detail Gandhi’s proposed 
negotiations with the Government. 

While Gandhi was thus trying to avert an immediate show- 
down with the Government, Linlithgow, was ready to pounce 
upon the Congress. The latter would not be deterred by 
Gandhi’s proposed letter to him. For he anticipated that 
instead of making any meaningful negotiation possible, it 
would only forward the Quit India resolution and convey 
Gandhi’s willingness to discuss matters, a willingness that meant 
little in view of the implacable attitude of the Congress. The 
Viceroy saw no sense in delaying arrests until he had received 
the letter and, meanwhile, the Working Committee had dis- 
persed over India.® 

On that very day (8 August 1942), the Government issued 

1 . The Hindu (Madras), 1 0 August 1942. 

2. Linlithgow to Amery, 8 August 1942 ; Nicholas Mansergh, cd.. The 
Transfer of Power 1942-7, Vol. 2 *Quit India* 20 April-21 September 
\942 (London, 1971), p. 616. 

the mass UPSURGI' 


an Extraordinary Gazette Notification in order to justify its 
planned action against the Congress. The notification described 
the Congress as “a totalitarian organization”, and blamed its 
leaders for consistenly impeding the growth of Indian nation- 
hood.* It was apparent that the Government was about to 
follow a policy of repression and terror to liquidate the whole 
Congress organization. 

Rumours had reached Gandhi in Bombay that arrests of 
the Congress leaders were imminent. He was least bothered. 
On 9 August, he woke up as usual at four in the morning for 
his prayers. He then told his private secretary, Mahadev 
Desai : “After my last night’s speech, they will never arrest 
me ” He was about to proceed with his daily routine when he 
heard that the police had arrived with detention orders for him.^ 

Besides Gandhi, the Bombay Government rounded up, in 
the early hours of 9 August, all the members of the Congress 
High Command present in Bombay. This was soon followed 
by the arrest of “A” and “B” category of Congress leaders in 
various provinces.® Hundreds of Congress leaders were clamped 
down. Overnight they became the security prisoners of the 
Government of India. Gandhi and his personal staff and close 
companions, such as his wife, private secretary, Sarojini Naidu, 
Meera Ben and Sushila Nayar were confined according to plan 
at the Aga Khan’s Palace, Poona. Members of the Congress 
Working Committee were lodged in the Ahmednagar Fort. The 
only exception was Rajendra Prasad who, because of ill health, 
had not been able to go to Bombay. He, too, was arrested the 
same day in Patna, and lodged in the local prison. The Govern- 
ment did not disclose the whereabouts of the Congress leaders. 
They were not permitted to communicate even with their close 
relatives because “the preventive character of the Government 
action would be entirely defeated if such contacts were 
allowed.”® The Government also declared AICC, CWC and 

3. The Gazette of India, Extraordinary, 8 August 1942 (Kome Depart- 
ment, Government of India, New Delhi). 

4. D G. Tendulkar, Mahatma (Bombay, 1953’), vol. 6, p. 216. 

5. The Government had prepared a list of such leaders i r every provirce 
as early as 1940. The list had been brought upto date recently. 

6. Home Political File No. 3/21/42, National Arcl ives cf India, New 
Delhi. Richard Tottenham, Additional Home Secretary, had, however. 



the Provincral Congress Committees as unlawful associations by 
exercising the power under section 16 of the Indian Criminal 
Law Amendment Act, 19087 

The abrupt official action inaugurated the Quit India 
movement. It was, of course, not possible now for any one to 
organize a civil disobedience movement of the usual type, yet, 
acting under their local leaders, the people stood up in a massive 
protest against the Government’s action. Just before his 
departure for prison, Gandhi had scribbled a note and given 
:t to Pyarelal. These w'erehis last instructions. 

According to Tendulkar, the note said : “Let every non- 
violent soldier of freedom write out the slogan ‘Do or Die’ on a 
piece of paper or cloth, and stick it on his clothes, so that 
in case he died in the course of offering satyagraha, he might he 
distinguished by that sign fiom other elements who do not 
subscribe to non-violence.”® According to a Government 
report, the message w'as slightly different : “Every man js free 
to go to the fullest length under Ahimsa by complete deadlock, 
strikes and other non-violent means. Satyagrahis should go 
out to die and not to live. It is only when individuals go out 
to seek and face death that the nation will survive. Karcnge 

noted : “To shut down even this kind of con murication might 
appear somewhat inhuman.” The Viceroy’s Excculwe Council, 
mcehng on J9 August 1942, decided to allow Gandhi and his party 
and the CWC members to receive purely personal me>sages from iheii 
close relatives. They were also rermitled to sec nevAspapers including 
past issues. 

7. The Government of India, Gazette Notification^ 9 August 1942, Home 
Department, New- Delhi. 

8. Tendulkar, n. 4, p. 216. 

But Pyarelal himself has denied that Gandhi gave any “last 
message” to him. His own view is ; ‘"This so-called last message, as 
a matter of fact, is only an assortment of pointers from Gandhiji’$ All 
India Congress Committee speeches on the 7th and Slh of August, 
1942, as recapitulated by the present writer to groups of Congress 
workers who came to Birla House on the morning of Sth of August, 
1942, and recorded by some of them.” Pyarelal (Comp.), Ga/zd/i/y/V 
Carre sfwndence with the Government 1942-44 {Ahme&dhad, Navajivan 
Publishing House. 1945), edn 2, p. xxv. 



¥a Marenge (We shall do or die).”® Whatever its text, the last 
message of Gandhi was a great source of inspiration to the 
multitudes who took part in the movement, regardless of 
whether they took recourse to non-violent or violent means. 

Serious disturbances immediately broke out all over India. 
Bombay, being the venue of the AlCC session and also of the 
arrest of most of the top Congress leaders, naturally exploded 
first. On the very first day (9 August 1942), crowds started 
throwing stones and soda water bottles at trains, buses and cars 
and at the police. Some buses were also burnt. Post oflSces 
were attacked and looted. The police opened fire on sixteen 
occasions, killing eight persons ann injuring forty-four. Similar 
incidents occurred in Poona, Ahmedabad and in some suburban 
areas of Bombay. All these places observed hartals. Mills 
and factories were closed. The fr^llowing day (10 August 1942), 
the crowds became more determined. On that day, police 
opened fire on twenty-six occasions, killing sixteen and injuring 
fifty-seven. In many places, crowds wanted to take out pro- 
cessions and made determined attempts at dislocating tram, 
bus and railway services. Europeans and government officials 
were molested. Even Indians in European dresses were not 
spared. Telephone and telegraph lines were cut ; municipal 
and government properties were damaged. Barricades were 
put on the road.^® 

From 11 August disturbances spread to nearby areas like 
Kaira, Thana, Broach, Panch Mahals, Godhra, Surat, Ahmed- 
nagar. East Khandesh, Nasik, Satara, Belgaum, Dharwar, 
Ratnagiii, West Khandesh, Sholapur, Bijapur, Kanara and 
Kolaba. Incidents that occurred in these areas were almost 
identical in nature and character. Whatever the Bombay crowd 
did on 9 and 10 August was followed avidly by the people of 
these places. On 12 August, the crowd at Chinchani forced 
policemen to burn their uniforms and join the procession. 
There was an exodus of 6,000 to 8,000 mill workers from 
Ahmedabad. In many mills, workers themselves struck 

9. Congress Responsibility for the Disturbances, 1942-43 (New Delhi, 
Government of India, 1943), p. 74. The Government’s version of 
Gandhi’s message was based on the texts used in underground 
Congress bulletins. 

10, Home Political File No. 3/15/43. 



work. In Broach, the Gopal Mills had to be closed down 
because spinners refused to work. At Chaklashi (Kaira) a mob 
attacked the police station. Another mob attempt^ to burn 
down the Government dispensary and the post office at 
Chinchani (Thana). The kacheri at PaJghar was attacked by a 
mob. One police Sub-Inspector was assaulted at Rakata. In 
all these places, police bad to open fire to disperse the crowd. 
Attendance of students in the schools and colleges in different 
districts was very poor. It ranged between ten to thirty percent. 

On 15 August, an attempt was made to set fire to a 
wooden door at the entrance to the General Post Office in 
Bombay. There were small fires in the warehouse of the 
Government Central Press and in the passage between the press 
and the stationery office. In Ahmedabad, the cloth markets and 
Zaveri Bazars continued to remain closed. The news of the 
death of Mahadev Desai on 15 August caused repercussions in 
Bombay, Ahmedabad, Poona, and Kaira on 16 August. In 
Ahmedabad police broke off the condolence meeting. Hartals 
were observed. Some students from Baroda came and distribu- 
ted “Azad” leaflets to the people of Kaira. Police followed 
this batch of students and fired on them at Adas Station, killing 
four of them and injuring six. In Ahmednagar, on 21 August, 
a mob of 500 villagers assaulted a party of three policemen and 
detained them in a school. Later they were rescued. Every- 
where attempts were made to take out processions and hold 
meetings. By 26 August all mills started working in Bombay, 
but in many of them workers still refrained from working. 

In other parts of the province the movement was still in 
full swing. On 28 August several processions were taken out in 
Kaira district. At Chikhodra when police resorted to lathi 
charge, two hundred Patidar women rushed out armed with 
“dharias”, “vansis” and sticks. Only with the help of the local 
people could the police pacify them. On 3 September, at 
Satara, a crowd of three thousand forced the Sub-judge to put 
on a Gandhi cap and join them in shouting slogans. The crowd 
then went to kacheri and forced the Mamlatdar to allow them 
to hoist the Congress flag there. At night they burnt the local 
inspection bungalow. On 9 September, police opened fire on a 
determined procession of students killing five and iujuring ten at 
Nandurbar, On 10 September, a mob armed with swords, 

rm maSs upsurge 


daggers and other weapons attacked Government officers at 
Mahad in Kolaba districts. The unarmed policemen were 
beaten and when a small party of armed police came, they were 
deprived of a few muskets and ammunition. Later a reinforced 
party of police opened fire on the mob. The police accidentally 
killed one government official. From among the crowd, four 
persons were killed. By the middle of September the intensity 
of the mass upsurge subsided. 

In Bihar, the situation took a serious turn after the police 
firing near the Secretariat building on 1 1 August. Thereafter, 
trouble spread from district to district and within a week 
extensive damage was done to railway tracks, railway stations 
and trains in North as well as South Bihar. A number of 
police stations w'ere attacked, post and sub-registry offices looted, 
and attempts made to hoist the*Congress flag on district and 
sub‘divisonaI offices, buildings of local bodies and schools. 
Hartals and picketing of schools and law courts became 
common. Curfew was imposed in Patna and Arrah where the 
situation seemed serious Describing the situation in Bihar, 
its Governor, T. Stewart, wrote to the Viceroy^® : 

Though [Patna] firing checked the attack the crowd went 
back in an ugly mood in the evening and through the 
night engaged in widespread sabotage and road obstruc- 
tion, the thoroughness of which had to be seen to be 
believed. Telegraph poles complete with their full equip- 
ment of wires were pulled over and branches of trees a foot 
and over in diameter were chopped down. This was not 
the work of five minutes or an hour but nevertheless no 
information came into headquarters that this wholesale 
destruction was going on. 

Indeed, events in Bihar took the form of a rebellion, 
spreading fast from urban to rural areas. By 12 August, Patna 
was completely cut oflffrom the rest of India. On 13 August, 
at Futwah, two Royal Air Force Canadian officers were dragged 
out of a train and killed. Planes armed with machine guns 
were used on crowds dismantling railroad traetks and bridges at 

11. Ibid. 

12. Horne Political File No. 3/22/42. 

13. T. Stewart to Linlithgow, 22 August 1942, Mansergh, n. 2, p. 787. 



Kajra. AIJ olBciaJ residences at Dchri-on-Sone were burnt by 
the mob on 14 August, At Bihta, on 15 August, *‘40 wagons 
of British troops’ rations” were burnt. Railway traffic was 
completely dislocated. On 18 August, a militar}^ aircraft 
crashed at Narayanpur. According to the official report the 
surviving members of the crew were killed by the mob. On 
19 August, the crowd even captured trains and drove them. 
On 3 September, the town police at Jamshedpur went on strike. 
On 4 September, prisoners of the Bhagalpur Central Jail 
murdered the D.S.P., the carding master and a warder. The 
armed police killed twenty-eight prisoners and wounded another 
eighty-seven of them. In Darbhanga district all police stations, 
except five, were attacked and looted. On 11 September, 5,000 
copper miners went on strike at Mushabanai. 

The people of Bihar ha^pdled all sorts of weapons in their 
fight with the police. Generally they used their own indigenous 
weaponry which included spears, bows, arrows and other local 
products. After looting the police armoury, they used to 
handle police muskets, .303 rifles and shot guns and sometimes 
revolvers too. Spears and other weapons were being manufac- 
tured by village blacksmiths from fish plates and other pieces of 
metal taken from the railway lines. All classes of people took 
part in the movement : intellectuals, students, factory workers, 
miners, peasants, policemen, C class apprentices, and sweepers. 
Two hundred and five policemen defected. In October, the jail 
population in Bihar rose to 27,000.^^ Violent mobs killed some 
military personnel at Saran, and some other Government and 
police officials at Sitamarhi (District Muzaffarpur), Minapore 
(District Muzaffarpur), Singhia (District Darbhanga) and 
Rapauli (District Purnea).^^ During the heat of the movement, 
the Government had almost lost control over Patna, Arrah, 
Bhagalpur and Darbhanga districts. Communications were 
maintained only through aeroplanes. 

In U.P., on 9 August itself, some processions, meetings 
and hartals took place. Big meetings were held at Banaras, 
Allahabad, Mathura and Meerut. The following day, students 

14. Home Political File Nos. 18/8/42 to 18/11/42, Fortnightly reports, 
Bihar, August -November 1942. Also, ibid., No. 3/30/42. 

15. Home Political File No. 3/107/42. 

the Mass upsurge 


attacked Government buildings. The Kanpur railway station 
booking office was attacked and looted. Young students were 
mostly active in these operations. On 11 August, about one 
hundred school boys were arrested at Etawah. Disturbances 
spread to Agra, Moradabad, Hapur, Lucknow, Meerut, Jaun- 
pur, Mirzapur and Nainital. “Students continued to be the 
mainspring of the movement in all places”. Cutting of commu- 
nications and attacks on Government buildings and properly 
increased in different areas of the province. The situation took 
a serious turn at Banaras and Allahabad on 12 August. In the 
morning the Allahabad kacheri was attacked by a mob headed 
by women. Police opened fire but four hundred determined 
students lay down in the kacheri garden, in the afternoon 
the Kotwali was attacked by a large crowd. In Eastern U.P., 
rural police stations, post ofl^ces and tehsils were attacked. 
Road communications were disrupted in the Ballia-Ghazipur 
area. “The centre of pressure now moved definitely into the 

It was suspected that students from Banaras and agitators 
from Bihar were responsible for creating these troubles. On 
13 August, the police and the mob clashed in ihe Mirzapur 
district. On 14 August, in Hard war, students of the Gurukul 
and the Rishikul broke loose and with the help of Mila pilgrims 
took over the town for a short period, looting Rs 2,500 from 
a post office, burning the railway station buildings, invading 
police out posts and destroying police uniforms. The Deputy 
Superintendent of Police was severely beaten ; so was the 
Munshi of a Civil Defence Magistrate. In Azamgarh, Ghazipur, 
and Ballia, the villagers made some pre-planned attacks. At 
Madhuban, in Azamgarh district, the crowd and the police 
clashed for two hours on 15 August. “The rebel forces came 
up from three directions and then combined in due order to 
carry out the assault. They were armed with spears and lathis 
and were assisted by two elephants.” Nevertheless, they were 
beaten off. “Unfortunately, in most places in the Eastern area, 
there was a rapid collapse of morale, police stations were cap- 
tured and guns taken”. In Meerut, a group of villagers blocked 
the road and attacked a police party. “In the disturbed area 
the rebels are everywhere accompanied by large crowds of 
villagers with an organizing core of students and agitators,” 



The Tehsil and Munsifi at Muhammadabad were burnt. 
“Meerut, looked like getting out of hand.” 

In some areas in U.P. and Bihar, from where the police 
had withdrawn, Congressmen set up their own machinery of 
Government, and in some places they even went to the extent 
of trying out cases and realizing fines and inflicting other punish- 
ments on the accused. Several zamindars were reported to 
have been asked to deposit their land revenue with the Congress 
organization and not to pa> it to the Government. 

The Government lost complete control over the District of 
Ballia for about ten days. Chittu Pande, the pres'dent of the 
District Congress Committee, became the de facto ruler there. 
The trouble started there on 14 August, when a passenger train 
flying the Congress flag, came to Ballia with students from 
Banaras. Ne.xt day the crowd went round the town, after 
hoisting Congress flags on the District Office, Civil Courts and 
Government High School, and attacked the railway station and 
post office. The District Magistrate was compelled to release 
the Congress leaders. Next day, the mob attacked the houses 
of some Government officials. On 20 August, the District 
Magistrate ordered the burning of currency notes worth rupees 
five lakhs in the treasury. On 22 August, the piesident of the 
District Congress Committee became the virtual dictator. The 
people then sacked the Tehsil and took away Rs. 15,000. All 
railway stations in the area were sacked and burnt. The 
eastern and southern portions of Azamgarh district also fell into 
the hands of mobs. Railway and Government properties were 
also destroyed. 

In the Central Provinces, there was no serious disturbance 
till 10 August 1942. There were, of course, hartals^ proces- 
sions and meetings. But after 10 August the situation rapidly 
deteriorated in Nagpur and the surrounding districts. The 
most affected districts were Nagpur, Wardha, Chanda, Bhau- 
dara and some parts of the Amaraoti district. In Nagpur dis- 
turbances began in the afternoon of 12 August when crowds 
went round the city destroying electric and telephone wires, 
attacking police out-posts and setting fire to Government 

16. Home Political File Nos. 18/8/42 to 18/10/42, Fortnightly reports, 
CJ.P., August to September 1942. 



property. A crowd was dispersed by police firing when it tried 
to attack the District and Civil Court buildings. “The distur- 
bances soon spread throughout the city and during the night 
roads were barricaded, telegraph wires cut and a number of 
police outposts and other buildings burnt down.” 

On 13 August, railway communications were widely dis- 
rupted. All public buildings at Ramtek were burnt down. 
Five railway stations on the Nagpur-Chindwara narrow gauge 
were burnt. Traffic on this line was interrupted for several days. 
At Chimur, in the Chanda district, the Sub -divisional Magis- 
trate, Circle Inspector of Police, Naib Tahsildar and one 
constable were murdered. One constable was speared and died 
subsequently. About ten forest depots were set on fire. Some 
unarmed policemen were individually beaten in the rural areas. 
“Some were humiliated by hav*/ig their uniforms burnt and 
being compelled to wear Gandhi caps and carry Congress flags 
in processions.” Several branch post offices were looted in 
different parts of the province. 

Troubles spread to Betul district also. In Akola, the 
mill-hands took prominent part in dislocating communications. 
In the towns, the students were the most active elements. 
Within a few days about four thousand people were arrested In 
police firings, altogether ninety-eight were killed and one 
hundred and sixty-eight wounded.^’ On 7 September, a mob of 
about two hundred persons raided the G.I.P. and B.N. Railway 
booking offices. On the same night, a group of people attacked 
two small post offices at Saugar. On 8 September about three 
hundred women picketted the courts and made extensive damage 
to telegraph and telephone lines. 

In some places 9 September was observed as “Indepen- 
dence day.” Processions were taken out on that day. About 
fifty-four men and eleven women were arrested for defying 
the prohibitory orders. The number of arrests now reached 
4,859. More than three hundred of these were whipped. The 
Government had to construct additional jails to accommodate 
political prisoners. Some prisoners in Nagpur, Jubbalpore, 
Bhandara, Betul and Wardha carried on agitation inside jails 

17. Home Political File No. 18/8/42, Fortnightly report, C.P. , August 



also. About twenty prisoners went on mass hunger strike in 
Raipur jaiJ. Others followed their example in different jails. 
There was widespread talk of police and military excesses in- 
cluding raping and looting at Chimur, Ashti and other places 
where troops were stationed. 

In Madras disturbances broke out in difl'erent parts of the 
province from 1 1 August onwards. Telegraph and telephone 
lines were cut and railway stations attacked at a number of 
places. Some trains were also derailed. “In one instance a 
military train carrying munitions to Madras was derailed near 
Podanpur”. Many railway stations were burnt down. Beginning 
at Guntur, these attacks spread to West Godavari, Ramnad, 
Madura and Tanjore districts. Schools and colleges were 
closed. Mills were on strike in the Coimbatore district. On 
24 August some people attacl^ed Sulur aerodrome and set fire 
to twenty-two lorries. Three drivers were burnt to death. In 
the Ramnad district, the people followed a regular technique 
of felling trees across the roads, breaking culverts and cutting 
telegraph lines before they made an attack. Sabotage activities 
continued in Anantpur, East Godavari, Nellore, Tanjore and 
Cuddapah districts. On 20 September, a mob attacked the 
Kulasekbarapatnam salt factory at midnight. The weighing shed 
was set on fire, and the Assistant Manager murdered. On 10 
September, a crowd attacked the post office at Calingapatnam 
and looted the cash. Schools, colleges and law courts were 
picketted. Even women look part in these demonstrations. 
The chemistry laboratory of the Ceded District college, Anant- 
pur, was gutted. Some thatched school sheds were set on fire 
at Karaikudi, Bellary and Pollachi. Many toddy shops were 
burnt. Mobs at Erode attempted to set the Deputy Collector's 
office on fire. On 16 September, at 2 A.M., a crowd of fifty to 
sixty men attacked and set on fire the Allur police station in the 
Nellore district. On the same day an attempt was made to set 
fire to the wooden sleepers on a railway bridge in the Ramnad 
district. On the night of 19 September, a wooden bridge was 
destroyed in the Nilgiris district. Salt was removed from a 
swamp in Ramnad district.^® 

18. Home Political File Nos. 18/8/42 to 18/9/42, Fortnightly reports. 

Madras, August to September 1942. 



In Delhi, a hartal was observed on 9 August, and distur- 
bances spread out the following day. In the Connaught Place 
the Lloyds Bank was attacked, and some window panes were 
damaged. Tramcars were stoned. “On the 11th August 
serious trouble started when a procession ordered to disperse 
in the Chandni Chowk became suddenly violent and the police 
were forced to open fire in self-defence.” Thereafter ensued 
many incidents of sabotage causing considerable damage to 
Government and Municipal property. One Sub-Inspector of 
police was murdered by an angry mob, while the Deputy Com- 
missioner and several police officers received minor injuries 
from brickbats and other missiles. In the early morning of 
12 August, the Calcutta-Kalka mail was derailed. Rural 
Delhi was comparatively peaceful. Only in Narela some acti- 
vities like picketting and hartals observed. 

Schools, colleges and courts were picketted by students. 
Students of the Hindu and Ramjas Colleges were most active in 
sabotage activities. On 12 August, the students attacked an 
electric sub*station, an octroi post, a Warden’s post and the 
Sarai Rohilla railway station ; they uprooted telegraphs poles 
and destroyed telegraph wires. On the same day, a crowd 
burnt the electric sub-station in Paharganj. On 11 Augusta 
four-storied building known as the “Pili Kothi” was completely 
gutted and a Fire Brigade sub-station was burnt, The situation 
began to return to normal from 12 August.^® 

In Bengal, school students were prominent in organizing 
a hartal on 9 August, Partial hartal was observed in many 
places. A number of processions and meetings were held in 
Calcutta, Dacca and many other places. Things took serious 
turn here only after 13 August. These were aimed principally 
at damaging or interrupting communications and essential ser- 
vices. Tramcars were interrupted. Attacks were made on 
post offices and post vans ; telephone and telegraph wires were 
cut ; street gas pillars were damaged : fire alarms were tampered 
with ; the distributing and feeder pillars of the Electric Supply 
Corporation were smashed ; and an electric sub-station was 

19. Home Political File No. 18/8/42, Fortnightly report* Delhi, August 

20. Ibid. 



put out of action. Persons wearing European clothes were 
also molested. 

In Dacca, the Muosif’s court, a police outpost and six 
post offices were attacked, and their records burn*t The 
first class carriage of a train was set on fire at Gandaria station 
Outside Calcutta, there were attacks on post offices in the 
Burdwan, Murshidabad, Dacca, Faridpur, Bakarganj and 
Tippera districts. In Dacca, Burdwan and Khulna, mobs 
damaged court buildings. In two districts there was an 
attempted boycott of courts. There were one or two resignations 
from Municipalities. On 9 September, a crowd at Siliguri 
attempted to attack the police station upon which the police 
opened fire killing many people Attacks on post offices and 
other gevernment buildings also took place at Balurghat, 
Nadia, Hooghly, Rajshahi,f Howrah and Noakhali. In 
Calcutta and elsewhere demonstrations by school and college 
students were frequent and continued for several weeks. 
Schools and colleges were closed by the Government from 14 
September. Muslim students generally did not take part in 
demonstrations. On 19 September, a mob attacked the police 
station, post office and railway station at Burdwan, and caused 
considerable damage. On 28 September, the mob burnt the 
collector’s office and irrigation buildings at Kalinagar, the 
Khasmahal office at Henria and the Sub-Registry office at 
Kajlagarh. On 19 September, a mob at Bhanga (Faridpur) 
murdered a Sub-Inspector and wounded two constables. At 
Nawabganj (Dacca), a constable was wounded. The mob at 
Jessore burnt down the Assistant Station Master’s office. On 
23 September, a group of Rajbansis, Polias and Santhals, armed 
with bows and arrows, attacked a police party at Dinajpur. 
The crowd snatched away two police muskets and some ammu- 
nition. In the police firing that followed three persons were 
killed and several wounded. 

In Assam, where disturbances did not erupt immediately, 
it was mainly in the Nowgong district that some serious 

21. Home Political File Nos. 18/8/42, 18/9/42. Fortnightly reports, 
Bengal, August, Septenaber 1942. 

22. a/d. 

23. J6fd. 



1942. Railway lines were dislocated, and portions of the track 
removed, on the night of 24 August, between Kampur and 
Jamunamukh, and at Puranigudam. On 25 August, a Captain 
of the Assam Rifles was assaulted for confiscating Congress 
flags. His jemadar was severely beaten. Railway and post 
offices were attacked and road bridges damaged at many 
places. The Kathiatali inspection bungalow, several excise 
shops, and the Raha circle offices were burnt. A mail van was 
looted near Goalpara. A military depot was burnt at Palasbari 
(Kamrup). At Sarbhog, on 28 and 29 August, the crowd burnt 
the Garrison Engineer’s office, the post and telegraph office and 
an inspection bungalow. In Sylhct the crowd destroyed the 
furniture and records of the post office, Executive Engineer’s 
office and Income Tax office. Later, similar disturbances 
spread to the Sibsagar district."^ ^ 

School and college students everywhere took active part in 
picketting, processions and hartals. On 18 September, at 
Berampur near Nowgong, a meeting attended by two thousand 
persons was fired upon and three persons were killed. On 
20 September, a n ob of two thousand attacked the Dhekiajuli 
police station (Dairarg) and tried to hoist the Congress flag on 
it. Police resorted lofinig, killing eight per.^ons and injuring 
twelve. Among the dead were three women. About the same 
time a crowd of five thousand people that made an assault on 
the Gohpur police station was fired upon and two persons, 
including a girl, were killed. At Barpeta in the Kamrup district, 
some disturbances took place on 13 September. A pleader’s 
house, a forest bungalow and some liquor shops were burnt. 

In Orissa also serious disturbances occurred late, and these 
were in the Districts of Balasore, Cuttack and Koraput. In the 
Balasore district, a mob attacked an outlying police station, 
injured the police staff and set fire to the station house and to 
the officers’ quarters. Later, they burnt the post office and 
damaged a road bridge. Telegraph and telephone wires were 
cut in several places. In the Kendrapara sub-division, post 
offices, canal revenue offices, and P.W.D, bungalows were burnt. 

24. Home Political File Nos 18/8/42. 18/9/42. Fortnightly reports. Assam, 
August, Sept; mber 1942* 

25. IM4. 



Armed with lathis, a crowd of three thousand attacked a police 
party on 26 August. Police opened fire and one person was 
killed. In the Angul sub-division, a group of people attacked a 
police party, rescued the arrested Congress leaders, and injured 
the magistrate and some policemen.^^ 

In the Koraput district markets were raided, liquor shops, 
police stations and road bridges damaged, and telegraph wires 
cut. The tribal people here took active part in the demonstra- 
tions. The District Magistrate of Koraput believed that the 
movement in that district was a deliberate attempt at a pre- 
planned violent revolution. On 6 September, a mob in Cuttack 
burnt a police barrack, the records of a police station, a post 
office, a rest shed, a revenue office and a tehsil office. In 
Balasore district, a crowd, about four to five thousand strong, 
clashed with a police party at Dhamnagar ; in the resultant 
firring eight persons were killed and seven injured. In another 
incident on 28 September, police opened fire on a mob that was 
attacking the Basudebpur police station at Eram. Twenty-five 
people were killed in this firing.^^ 

In Punjab disturbances took place in Lahore, Amritsar, 
Ludhiana, Sargodha, Lyallpur, Multan, Gurgaon and Rawal- 
pindi. Partial hartal was observed in some towns. Telephone 
wires were cut in two or three places, four postal letter boxes 
were damaged and minor dnmage was done to a railway booking 
office. In Sargodha, a crowd of two thousand persons attacked 
a police party with brickbats. On 13 August, some two hundred 
students damaged street lamps and invaded the Municipal office 
and a local railway agency. Police in Multan pushed some 
students into a pond ; as a result, three of them were drowned.^® 
Though the people of Sind and North-West Frontier 
Province resented the arrest of Gandhi and the other Congress 
leaders, no serious incident took place there. 

The Quit India movement was not confined to British India 
alone. It made deep inroads into different princely states, and 
inspired the people there to make their contribution to the cause 

26. Home Political File Nos 18/8/42, 18/9/42, Fortnightly reports, Orissa, 
August, September 1942. 

27. Ibid, 

28. Home Political File Nos. 18/8/42, 18/9/42, Fortnsghtly reports, Punjab, 
August, September 1942. 



of India’s indepenpence. For the purpose a member of Praja 
Manda\s were organised. The Quit India movement was more 
intensive in Saurashtra, Ujjain, Gwalior, Kotah, Rajputana, 
Mysore, Baroda and Kashmir. In Kashmir, the Government 
Silk Weaving Factory was burnt. In Mysore, the Bhadrawati 
Steel Works, the KoJar Gold Fields and the Hindustan Aircraft 
Factory (Bangalore) were on strike for a long period ; the 
Harihar railway line was completely dislocated. These activities 
considerably damaged the property of the Government of India 
in the princely states. 

It was natural that British Residents should perform a 
significant role in quelling the active symphathetic response that 
the moment had evoked in the Indian States. Troops from 
British India were lent to take care of the disturbances in these 
areas. Some of the princes, acting on the advice of the 
residents, declared the Praja Mandals as unlawful, and arrested 
and detained all the important leaders of these bodies. Mobs 
were fired upon at many places. At Talchar, in Orissa, an 
aircraft was used to machine-gun the crowd.®® 


An examination of the main incidents which took place in 
course of the mass upsurge in August-September 1942 makes it 
clear that the communication system, viz,, railways and posts 
and telegraphs, received special attention of the people. There 
was a belief that by disrupting the communation network the 
people could capture a few isolated tehsils and thanas as a first 
step towards the occupation of the district headquarters. Attacks 
on communication lines were also intended to hamper the Allied 
war-eflFort and thus bring pressure on the British Government. 
That there was method in the widespread distruction of the 
communication network would suggest that apart from realising 
the tectical importance of such activities, the saboteurs also 
possessed sufficient technical knowledge. In fact, they used 
special instruments, viz., wire-cutters to cut telegraph wires, 

29. Home Polititical File No. 3/89/4?. 

30. Ibid. 



spanners to remove fishplates and fishbolts from railway lines. 

In the first week of August 1942, all the railways suffered 
more or less. Shortage of coal also considerably reduced the 
number of running trains. In Eastern U.P. and Bifiar trains 
could run only during day time under the protection of military 
convoys. The whole of Eastern Railway was badly affected. 
Damage to railway property was estimated in the neighbour- 
hood of a crore of rupees.^^ Only after the deployment of troops 
could the safely and security of the railway tracks be ensured. 

As regards postal and telegraphic communications, the 
worst affected areas were Bihar, Eastern U.P., Eastern Bengal, 
Northern Assam, Wardha, Chanda, Amaraoti and Akola dis- 
tricts in the Central Provinces, Bezwada, Guntur, Ramnad and 
Madura districts in Madras; and the cities of Poona and Bombay. 
Five hundred and fifty-three ppst offices were attacked, of which 
twenty-eight were completely burnt. Two hundred and eighteen 
post offices were temporarily closed down. All the communica- 
tion lines connected with Patna were completely cut off ; only 
through military wireless communication system could the 
officials at Patna maintain contact with the rest of India. 

In case of post offices, the mobs first entered and took out 
the furniture, forms and records, and made a bonfire of them 
in front of the offices. In some cases, the telegraph and other 
instruments were smashed, and in a few cases, the cash, stamps 
and other valuable articles were looted. No harm was usually 
done to the staff working in the offices. A number of letter 
boxes fixed in public places were removed or damaged and 
sometimes acid or other burning materials were thrown inside 
them. In many cases, mail-runners and mail buses were 
attacked and looted. Wire-cutting (telephone and telegraph) 
seemed to be a popular pastime. The posts were pulled down 
and cable junction boxes burnt. Only Punjab, Sind, N W.F.P., 
Rajputana and Central India were free from these troubles.*^ 

Besides the communication systems, people also attacked 
sixty-live police stations, of which forty were completely burnt. 

31. Home Political Flic Nos 3/26/42 and 18/10/42, Fortnightly report, 
C.P., October 1942. 

32. Home Political File No. 3/16/42. 

33. /M. 

34. Ibid. 



They also attacked and destroyed fifty-five other public build- 
ings.® There were attempts in most of the places to hoist the 
Congress flag on public offices like the Secretariate, courts and 
police stations. Sometimes these attempts resulted in police- 
mob scuffles and firings. Quite a large number of Government 
buildings, inspection bungalows, court buildings, etc. were 
destroyed by the mob. There were attempts at many places to 
break open the jails. Some attempts were made in the indus- 
trial towns to disrupt the electric supply lines by such methods 
as uprooting distribution pillars and pulling down pylon 
towers ®® 

Bombs were frequently used during this time, particularly 
in Bombay, CP. and Bengal. Crude country-made bombs 
were made in cigarette tin containers, in brass lotas, coconut- 
shclls and the like. The bombs contained steel ball-bearings, 
sharpnel, bullets, gramophone pins and pieces of glass and 
china. Many people died in the process of manufacturing 
them. The mob also used to throw at the police electric bulbs 
filled with acid. Dacoities for political purposes, too, became 

The chief industrial centres of the country played a signi- 
ficant part in the Quit India movement, A unique feature of 
the movement in these centres was the co-operation between the 
management and labour. When the movement started, the 
Ahmedabad group of mill-owners took the lead and closed their 
factories for an indefinite period. Soon their example was 
followed by others in different places. The Government sus- 
pected that strikes in mills and factories were being engineered 
by G D B:rla®’ ; in Calcutta and Jalpaiguri Marwari business- 
men in general were suspected to be in s>mpathy with the 

35. Home Political File No. 6/13/42. 

36 . Home Political File No. 3/33/42. 

37. Home Politicai File No. 3/16/42. 

According to a Government Intelligence Report, J.K. Birlaon 
the eve of the Quit India movement was attempting to approach the 
Mahanija of Nepal with a request to send a note to the British 
Government to the effecl that the terms of the Anglo-Nepalcse 
treaty precluded the use of Nepalese soldiers in maintaining internal 
order in India and asking for an assurance that they would not be 
used for that purpose. Home Political File No, 3/107/42, 



movement.®® The general belief in the official circles was that 
the management paid salaries to the labour in advance and 
resorted to lock-outs in the plants. There were underground 
cells working in the Engineering industrial units with a *view to 
bringing the maximum pressure on the Government by adver- 
sely affecting the war effort.®® 

Strikes in the cities and the suburban areas were initially 
quite successful. Business was suspected for a prolonged period 
by Hindu shop-keepers. In the factories and the mills, the 
labourers were also eager to co-operate with the management. 
For long, Gandhi had been treated as a prophet by ihe Indian 
labour world. It was widely rumoured that Gandhi had pro- 
phesied the attainment of independence by India within two 
months. The Congress-oriented trade unions used the rumour 
to bring labour force behirfd thera.^® The idea behind the 
strikes was to sabotage the war effort by disrupting the supply 
of vital productions without destroying industrial plants. Be- 
sides, the Congress issued a call for economic boycott against 
the Government officials. In Bombay, it was reported that 
traders were forced to open their shops by the Government but 
the buyers and sellers were both reluctant to carry out transac- 
tions. It seemed a shadow committee of the Congress was 
operating through the agency of volunteers. Possibly this 
happened in other areas also. 

One remarkable feature of the strikes was that nowhere 
were these accompanied by looting or arson. Hooligans and 
mischief- mongers were not allowed to take an upper hand. 
The houses of mahajans, landlords and other big merchants 
were not attacked. Labour and management were united on 
the issue of strike. 

The following were the more important strikes that consi- 
derably affected the Government of India’s war production : 

38. Home Political File No. 3/34/42. 

39. Home Political File No. 3/26/42. 

40. Horne Political File No. 18/9/42, Fortnightly report, Bombay, 
September 1942. 

41. Ibid, 

42. Sir Cowasjee Jahangir’s speech at the National Defence Council 
meeting, 8 September 1942, Home Political File No. 13/26/42, 

43. Home Political File No. 3/34/42, 



1. The Cotton Textile Mills of Bombay and Abmedabad. 
The Ahmedabad mills were on strike for about 10 

2. The General Motors of Bombay (from 10 August to 
2 September 1942). 

3. Lever Brothers (from 10 August to 2 September 

4. Tata Iron and Steel Company, Jamshedpur (from 
21 August to 3 September 1942). 

5. Hindustan Aircraft Manufacturing Company, 
Bangalore (4-5 days)* 

6. Birla Jute Mills (one week). 

7. The Cotton and Textile Mills of Coimbatore (13 to 
18 August, and 24 to 31 August 1912). 

8. Cotton Textile Mills, Delhi (10 August to 9 Septem- 
ber 1942). 

9. I.G.N. & Railway Company’s Dockyard, Garden 
Reach, Calcutta. 

10. Buckingham & Carnatic Mills, Madras. 

Besides these, the Mysore Iron and Steel Works, Calcutta 
Port Trust, the Calcutta Tramways, seven engineering concerns 
of Calcutta, one ordnance factory, the Cordite factory at 
Aravankadu, flour mills in Delhi, the Indian Cable Company, 
and the East India Railway Workshop were on strike for quite 
a long period.'*® 

The Government was particularly disturbed by the long 
strike in the Tata factories. Linlithgow in a secret letter to 
Amery, wrote on 22 August 1942 : “In some ways the most 
disturbing a development is the openly declared political strike 
in the Tata factories— and the serious interruption of vital war 
industries which this involves and to which for obvious reasons 
we have done our best to deny publicity.”^® 

The strike in the Tata factories according to official 
intelligence, was instigated by the foremen and the supervisory 
staff viho numbered about four hundred. Also, A.R. Dalai, a 
Director, and Jahangir Ghandy, the General Manager, were in 

44. Home Political File No. '?/26/42. 

45. Home Political File No. 3/33/42. 

46. Home Political File No. 3/16/42, 



favour of the strike.^’ The Tatas were engaged in the produc- 
tion of war munitions. There was a loss of about 100,000 tons 
of steel and 1^,0C0 gallons of Toluene.'*® Annual loss of pro- 
duction was about 10 percent. It had general repercussions 
on all steel projects." 

The strikes in the textile industries also adversely affected 
the Government’s war-effort The Buckingham and Carnatic 
Mills of Madras were engaged in the production of khaki drill. 
The total loss of production was two and a half crore yards. 
The stoppage of the Calico mills and Messrs Hathi Singh & Co. 
caused much difficulties to other mills because they were the 
chief producers of sowing cotton. The total loss of production 
was estimated at about 25 million running yards 

The youth, both educated and uneducated, played a lead- 
ing role in the mass upsurge.^ The 1942 movement was, indeed, 
a movement of the youth. They took the arrest of the lop 
Congress leader^ as a national affront. The youth accepted 
the challenge. Soon they were in command everywhere. 

The Chief Secretary of Bombay reported : “The student 
class was particularly in the forefront and in fact was the most 
t roublcsome element in cities.”®^ In U.P. “the disturbances were 
i n almost all cases started as a result of the activities of school 
boys and students.’ The Chief Secretary of Madras said ; 
“In some districts students were very prominent in the part 
they played.” He added that students and unemployed young 
men were active everywhere. Students in particular took a 
leading part during the earlier stages of the disturbances.®® In 
the Central Provinces, “on the whole, the vounger generation 
was more in evidence and it is to this class that persons work- 

47. Home Pr Iitical File No. 140/42 

48. Home Political File No. 3/33/42. 

49. Home Political File No. 3/16/42 

50 . fb^d 

51. Chief Secretary (Bombay) to Home Secretary Government of India, 

9 September 1942, Home Political File No. 3/34/42. 

52. Chief Secretary (U.P.) to Home Secretary, Government of India, 
26 October 1942, ibid. 

53. Chief Secretary (Madras) lo Koire Secretary, Coverrment pf India, 
26 October 1942, ibid. 



ing behind the scenes directed their attention.”** The Bihar 
Chief Secretary wrote in a similar vein : “Students were very 
prominent especially in the early stages and were much to the 
fore in organizing and carrying out sabotage.”'”^^ From Bengal 
the official report was that “generally speaking disturbances 
were created by students and school boys who are always sus- 
ceptible to unruly influences. in Orissa, the students of the 
Ravenshaw College in Cuttack took a leading part in the 
demonstrations. In Delhi, as has been noted, the students of 
the Ramjas and Hindu Colleges led the sabotage activities.** 
In Assam students were active in the Nowgong, Darrang, 
North Kamrup and South Goalpara districts.^® “Activity in 
connection with the Civil Disobedience Movement” in Sind 
was officially reported to have “been confined almost entirely to 
the larger towns” where it “carried on in the main by 
students and school children of the Hindu community.”*® 

The Bauaras Hindu University, especially, became the 
storm centre of rebellious activities* and from here were orga- 
nised rebel operations in Eastern India, particularly Eastern 
U.P. and Southern Bihar. The University even closed its gates 
to the District Magistrate and declared itself as the head- 
quarters of Free India. Its University Training Corps was 
turned into “Indian National Army” under the command of 
Dr. Kaushalya Nand Gairola, a member of the staff. So 
effective were the planning, strategy and organization of the 
Banaras students that the University began to be looked upon 
by the Government as “a focus of sabotage and railway dacoity 

54. Chief Secretary (C.P.) to Home Secretary, Government of India, 
2 November 1942, ibid. 

55. Chief Secretary (Bihar) to Home Secretary, Government of India, 
17 September 1942, ibid. 

56. Chief Secretary (Bengal) to Home Secretary, Government of India, 
12 November 1942, ibid. 

Sli Chief Secretary (Orissa) to Home Secretary, Govern nent of India, 

1 1 November 1942, ibid. 

58. Chief Secretary (Delhi) to Home Secretary, Government of India, 
16 September 1942, ibid. 

59. Chief Secretary (Assam) to Home Secretary, Government of India, 
16 September 1942, ibid. 

60. Chief Secretary (Sind) to Homo Secretary, Government of India, 

9 September 1942, ibid. 


organization.”®! It was consequently closed down sine die, and 
the students were asked to leave the campus which was occupied 
by the army on 19 August. The students who thus got 
scattered helped and guided people in different areas iti sabotage 

“It was fiom this base that parties of students sallied forth 
and organized sabotage in the whole surrounding area.” A 
delegation from the Banaras university visited the Allahabad 
university on 12 August 1942. The Allahabad students 
immediately flared up and attacked the Kotwali. Even the gill 
students took part in these demonstrations. Later on the 
students, in collaboration with the Congress Mandals, became 
more active in the area east of Fyzabad and Allahabad. Some 
elements belonging to the Hindustan Socialist Republican 
.vrmy also helped the studerts. After some time, the Lucknow 
and the Agra students followed suit.®^ Linlithgow succintly 
described the situation to Amery®^ : 

61. Viceroy to Secretary of State, 17 August 1942, Home Political File 
No. 3/ i 6/42, 

62. Horne political File Nos. 3/26/42 and 18/10/42, Fortnightly report, 
U.P., October 1942. To penalize the Banaras University authorities, 
the Government of India was considering the proposal to take over the 
university buildings (B.H.U.) for use as a military hospital and to 
withhold the second instalment of the Central Government’s grant for 
the year 1942-43. However, these plans were not executed. The 
University authorities, of course, received a warning from the 
Government that “future grants would be withheld if they admitted 
without adequate guarantee of satisfactory behaviour, students who 
had taken part in unauthorized political activities or permitted within 
the precincts of the University any propaganda subversive of the 
authority of Government.*’ Linlithgow believed that S. Radhakrishnan, 
the Vice-Chancellor, had no control over the students. Home Political 
File No. 3/6/43. 

63. Home Political File Nos 3/26/42 and 18/10/42, Fortnightly report, 
U.P., October 1942. 

64. Home Political File Nos. 18/9/42, 18/10/42, 18/11/42, Fortnightly 
reports, U.P., September, October, November 1942. 

In all, 134 students were externed from tne Banaras district. 
These students came from different parts of India, such as, Delhi, 
Punjab, Bihar, Assam, Madras, U.P. and various princely states. 

Home Poiitical File No. 22/47/44. 

65. Governor General to Secretary of ^ State, 22 August 1942, Home 
Political File No. 3/16/42. 


8 ? 

In all the disturbances students have been prominent and, 
as a particular example, the Benaras University has been 
working as an organizing centre. In this last fact we 
should ourselves be inclined at present to see that main 
key to the situation. The volume of revolutionary 
propaganda spread throughout the country by communist 
and other organizations combined with the nationalist 
and anti-British preachings of Congress has had a cumula- 
tive effect on the educated and impressionable youth of 
the country. To the younger generation the ‘non-violent 
non-co-operation’ of Gandhi has never made a really 
strong appeal. Either they have deliberately seized control 
and exceeded the instructions of Congress, or the Congress 
leaders may themselves have instigated and subsidised a 
revolt the violence of which may have gone beyond their 
expectations, or there ra^ have been more sinister forces 
at work. What matters for the moment is that youth is 
in command and has been putting into execution a 
revolutionary programme which could hardly have sprung 
into existence at a moment’s notice ! 


Contrary to what the Viceroy thought, the “revolutionary 
programme” had, indeed, “sprung into existence at a moment’s 
notice.” The programme generally followed all over the country 
had not been formally drawn up by any group either before or 
immediately after the momentous AICC meeting in Bombay. 
A group of junior Congress leaders, who had escaped arrest, 
did meet immediately after the rounding up of the top Congress 
leaders ; they drew up a twelve-point programme ol action in 
the name of the AICC. This included a country-wide hartal, 
manufacture of salt in defiance of law, and non-co-operation with 
Government on as wide a scale as possible. It appealed to 
various sections of the people like students, government servants, 
soldiers, women, and people in the princely states to make their 
contribution to the struggle. But there was no mention of 
attack on communications, police stations and the like. 

The Government of India published a brochure the title 
of which, Congress Responsibility For The Disturbances 1942-43, 



clearly indicated its purpose. Inspite of being heavily docu- 
mented, it could refer to but one prc-8 August document which 
mentioned the destruction of telegraph and telephone lines. 
This was the Andhra Provincial Congress Committee circular of 
29 July which has been discussed earlier.^® It is, of course, 
possible to argue, on the basis of this circular, that the demoli- 
tion of communication lines had come up for discussion among 
some top Congress leaders. Yet, it is clear that no programme 
had beecn finalised by the Congress High Command by t; August 
1942, and also that no central circular on the lines of the 
Andhra Congress circular had been issued. However, when the 
movement broke out, people followed a more or less common 
programme, which included attack on telegraph and telephone 
lines, police stations and government property in general. 

There is no doubt that the need for such activities was 
stressed in many circulars and broadcasts issued by the junior 
Congress leaders, including the ?iocialists, who had gone under- 
ground after the arrest of the top leaders. It is this which led 
Achyut Patvardhan and Aruna Asaf Ali to question the retros- 
pective claim of the Congress Woiking Committee that ihe 
1942 upsurge had been spontaneous ; rather it had been guided 
and organized by these underground leaders. Referring to their 
own work, Patvardhan and Aruna described the organisation 
and leadership provided by underground leaders in Bombay. 
Necessary directions were conveyed to thousands of Congress 
workers and others who were still out of jail, and anxious to 
implement the resolution of 8th August 1942. Their authority 
for assuming such responsibility was never questioned and they 
received the unstinted support of large sections of their people. 
The initial response of the people to the Congress call to act as 
free men was, indeed, spontaneous and miraculous. But once 
they had set out on the path of revolt, they clamoured for 
effective guidance.®’ 

Certainly the underground leaders played an important 
part in continuing the movement in some form or the other 

66. Andhra Provincial Congress Commiltee’s circular, 29 July 1942, 
Congress Responsibility, n. 9, pp. 55-6. 

67. Achyut Patvardhan and Aruna Asaf Ali’s open letter to the President, 
Indian National Congress, 7 January 1946, Amtita Bazar Patrika 
(Calcutta), 18 January 1946. 


beyond September, 1942.®* However, the mere fact that they 
issued circulars and made broadcasts outlining the programme 
which was actually followed does not prove that it was from 
them that the people had received that programme in the stormy 
days of August-September 1942. It is extremely unlikely that 
these circulars and broadcasts could have reached all parts of 
the country within two or three days of the arrest of the top 
leaders. For by then the upsurge had already assumed a 
definite shape. In fact, describing the situation in August 1942, 
Achyut Patvardhan himself wrote in his underground paper, 
Ninth August, on 26 January 1944 : “The emotional tempo 
was there but the strength was not yet organized and could not 
be directed into definite channels.”®® Even more emphatic on 
this point was Jayaprakash Narayan who, after his escape from 
prison at the end of 1942, analysed the causes of the suppression 
of the movement, and wrote that there was no efficient organiza- 
tion of the national Revolutionary forces that could function 
and give effective lead to the mighty forces that were released.” 
A great organization, the Congress, however, was not tuned to 
the pitch to which the Revolution was to rise. Such was the 
lack of organization that even important Congressmen were not 
aware of the progress of events and it remained a matter of 
debate in many Congress quarters whether the work of the 
people was really in accordance with the Congress programme.’® 
Rajendra Prasad’s testimony is emphatic. No person 
or group of persons, according to him, can be given the 
credit for spreading the ideas which led to the adoption of a 
certain programme by the people all over the country during 
August-September 1942. The credit should go to the Govern- 
ment of India and to Amery. While on 9 August (he newspapers 
had published the Congress resolution of August 8, the Govern- 
ment had issued a communique seeking to explain the reasons 
for its arrest of Gandhi and members of the Congress Working 
Committee. That communique alleged that destruction of the 
means of communications like Posts and Telegraphs and the 
railways formed a part of Congress programme. On 10 August 

68. This has been discussed in detail in the next chapter. 

0. File No. O. 55, 1946, AICC, Nehru Memorial Museum, New Delhi. 

70. Jayaprakash Narayan, "To All Fighters For Freedom,” Congress 
Responsibility, n. 9, p. 70 (emphasis in the original). 


1942, in a speech, broadcast from London and published in all 
Indian newspapers, Amery repeated the alleged programme of 
the Congress. As the Congress had issued no programme, the 
people got the impression from these reports that an attack on 
communications must have been included in the* Congress 
programme and started acting on that presumption 

The confidence with which Amery spoke made his 
contention about the Congress plan of action all the more 
credible. He said’- : 

The real concern is not the demand, which cannot be 
taken seriously, but the action which the Congress is 
resolved upon and for which preparation has been for 
sometime in progress. This includes the fomenting of 
strikes in industry, commerce, administration, law courts, 
schools and colleges, interruption of traffic and public 
utility services, cutting of telegraph and telephone wires 
and picketting of troops and recruiting stations... The 
success of the proposed campaign would paralyse India’s 
entire war effort by stopping the flow of munitions, the 
construction of aerodromes and actually immobilizing 
the army. 

That Amery had the Andhra Congress circular in mind is 
borne out by his telegram of 25 September 1942 to Linlithgow’*: 
“In replying a question in Parliament on September 
11th 1 undertook to consult you on question of publication 
of documents purporting to be instructions for carrying 
out of a civil disobedience campaign. I referred in my 
reply to ANDHRA circular and said that it must rest with 
you to decide how much of the material in your possession 
is suitable for publication. 

Amery thus became the chief instrument in broadcasting 
the supposed Congress programme of action. What he said 
was avidly believed by the people. It seemed so plausible, 
being in tune with the prevailing atmosphere in the country 
and with the type of things which the Congress leaders, Gandhi 

71. Raje .dia PiasacI, A tobio<raphy (Bombay, 1957), p. 549. 

72. L S. Amjry’s broadcast speech in London, 9 August 1942, The Hindu, 
11 August 1942. 

73. Secretary of Slate to Viceroy, 26 September, 1942 Horae Political 
File No. 3/31/42. 



included, had freely talked about. It has been, for instance, 
repeatedly asserted that, different from the earlier movements, 
the coming movement would be short and swift. Jail going, 
moreover, would not be its chief characteristic, and within 
the broad framework of non-violence people would be free to 
adopt necessary steps. It had been further declared that the 
movement would really be an open rebellion, and people had 
been given a radical watch word, “do or die.” Excitement was 
widespread and waring. At such a moment the authorities not 
only spurred the people into activity but also provided them 
with guidlines for action. 

There was no central organization to direct the move- 
ment. The junior Congress leaders who had got together in 
Bombay on 9 August and prepared the twelve-point programme, 
of course, tried to transmit it tc^all parts of the country. They 
functioned in the name of the AICC and issued circulars and 
appeals from time to time. It cannot, however, be said that the 
mass upsurge in various parts of the country grew under their 
direction There were also no provincial organizations worth the 
name during those early days. As Linlithgow assessed the 
situation within ten days of the outbreak of the disturbances’^ : 
taking the country as a whole the disturbances, though 
evidently planned by a common source, do not appear 
now to be coordinated by any single centre and are 
sporadic in incidence. I have not much doubt that desire 
of students to initiate subversive or destructive activities 
of students in other provinces of which they became 
aware, and anxiety of hooligan elements to turn so good 
an opportunity to profit, are responsible for a good deal, 
helped no doubt in certain areas by plans being worked 
out, or already in existence and implemented by Congress 

In fact, there was no lack of organization, but such 
organization was of a purely ad hoc and local character. In 
every area new leaders emerged from among the youth. This 
was clearly acknowledged by the Government’® : 

We have at the moment no information to suggest that 
there is any central All India leadership of the present 

74. Linlithgow to Aniery, 16 August 1942, Mansergh, n. 2, p. 731. 

75. Home Political File No. 3/31/42. 

ThE Quit fNt>IA movement 

Congress movement. The sporadic nature of the out- 
breaks in different parts of the country suggests that no 
central organization at present exists. The 12-point 
programme purporting to have been issued by the rump 
AH India Congress Committee from Bombay after the 
arrest of the main leaders, the farewell instructions alleged 
to have been issued by Gandhi and Azad and the previous 
statements of Congress leaders iu press and on platform 
all tend to confirm this impression. 

The intelligence authorities saw no master mind behind 
the disturbances, and attributed them largely to the cumula- 
tive effect of the anti-British agitation, which had been 
deliberately intensified by Congress leaders since the failure of 
the Cripps Mission. The activities of such organizations as the 
Congress Socialist Party, Forward Bloc and other extreme 
revolutionary parties who are always ready to fish iu troubled 
waters bad also contributed to this situation.’^ 

The Viceroy in a telegram to the Secretary of Stale dated 
3 October 1942, affirmed : “VVe fee! valid distinction can be 
made between Congress responsibility for and Congress 
organization of disturbances. Former is undeniable but latter is 
true to only limited extent. Many who deny Congress responsi- 
bility are in rcdlity denying only Congress organization.’'’’ 

It is, however, ironical that the Viceroy himself forgot the 
distinction between “responsibility” and “organization” and 
said later in the same telegram’® : 

It is commonly said by those who would absolve Congress 
of responsibilty that disturbances were spontaneous out- 
bursts arising from arrest of Congress leaders. Distur- 
bances, however, clearly lacked main features of 
spontaneity. Thus they occurred mainly in strategic 
areas ; they began simultaneously with similar objectives 
in widely separated areas not on day of arrests but two or 
three days later ; objects of attack were mainly essential 
communications and Government property with on the 
whole notable absence of looting of private property which 

76 Home Political File No 3/31/42- 

77. Horn; Political File No. 3/31/42. 

78. fdfd. 



IS of particular significance in view of large criminal 
element involved, many acts, particularly sabotage of 
railways and roads, diplayed technical knowledge and 
those concerned must have been provided with necessary 
tools ; there was marked absence of sabotage of valuable 
machinery and plant in factories even where strikes 
occurred ; finally absence of communal trouble must be 
put down largely to disciplined abstention from inter- 
ference with Muslims. 

What the Viceroy says here has relevance neither to the 
question of responsibility nor to that of organization. As has 
already been explained above, the common features of the 
movement in various parts of the country were not due to any 
central planning or organization, but were the cumulative result 
of the tension and excitement whi^jh had grown during the pre- 
ceding months as well as the people’s understanding of the 
nature of the supposed Congress programme, because of 
Amery’s vain bid to malign the Congress leaders. 


The absence of a central organization behind the move- 
ment, having branches in all parts of the country, made the 
task of the Government in suppressing it less difficult than it 
would otherwise have been. Even so it was by no means easy 
and the Government soon realized this. In the beginning, of 
course, the authorities tended to belittle the mass upsurge. On 
11 August 1942, Linlithgow informed Amery that but for a rash 
of sporadic disorder of varying degrees of seriousness, the situa- 
tion was not too bad. Although, the police and the executive 
authorities in the provinces had to bear considerable strain, there 
‘^was nothing of great importance.”’® 

A couple of days later the Viceroy reassured Amery that 
the situation throughout the country was well in hand. The 
students, though, continued to give trouble in various places, 
and industrial areas like Lucknow, Kanpur, Bombay, Nagpur 
and Ahmedabad, betrayed signs of strain due partly to the 

79, Linlithgow to Amery, 11 August 1942, Mansergh, n. 2, vol. 2, p. 662. 



“local hooligans” and partly to the presence of large number of 
milJ-hands on strike.®^ 

Within a week, however, the Viceroy had to report that 
the situation was serious, especially in Bihar. Bhagaipur was 
reported to be out of hand, and conditions in the north of the 
Ganges were grave. Only through air flights were communi- 
cations maintained in the worse affected areas.®^ Again on 24 
August, he accepted Ballet’s description of “this movement, in 
certain parts of the country at any rate, as a rebellion.”®- By 
31 August, Linlithgow was comparing the uprising with the 
movement of 1857®®: 

I am engaged here in meeting by far the most serious re- 
bellion since that of 1857, the gravity and extent of which 
we have so far concealed from the world for reasons of 
military security. Mol) violence remains rampant over 
large tracts of the countryside and I am by no means con- 
fident that we may not see in September a formidable at- 
tempt to renew this widespread sabotage of our war effort. 
The lines of Europeans in outlying places are to-day in 
jeopardy. If we bungle this business we shall damage 
India irretrievably as a base for future allied operations 
and as a thoroughfare for U S. help to China. 

The Government did not “bungle”. Requisite force was em- 
ployed to suppress the upsurge. Firing was frequently resorted to. 
According to the incomplete statistics available to the Govern- 
ment on 15 September, three hundred and forty persons had 
been killed and eight hundred and fifty injured as a result of 
police firings. A large number of policemen had also been in- 
jured and thirty-one were reported to have been killed by the 
insurgents. The army was extensively used. The troops were 
called out in no less than sixty places, while on a number of 
occasions they stood by. They were widely used for guard and 
protection duties. The troops, too, were ordered to open fire 
on many occasions. The reported figures of casualities thus 
caused were 318 killed and 153 wounded ; military casualities 
being 1 1 killed and 7 wounded. The Air Force was also used, 

80. Linlithgow to Amery, 13 August 1942, ibid., pp. 682-3. 

81. Linlithgow to Amery, 19 August 1942, ibid.y p. 754. 

82. Linlithgow to Amery, 24 August 1942, ibtd,y p. 808. 

83. Linlithgow to Amery, 31 August 1942, ibid., pp. 853-4. 



particularly for reconnaissance and patrol. Besides, ^*on one 
or two occasions after warnings had no effect, air- craft opened 
fire on mobs actually engaged in destroying the railway line ; 
but there was no bombing whatever.”®^ 

A number of Ordinances were specially promulgated to 
deal with the movement. The Penalties (Enhancement) Ordi- 
nance, 1942 provided for the imposition of increased penalties 
in respect of a wide range of offences against property, the per- 
son and the public peace. It rendered sabotage punishable 
with whipping or death.®® The Special Criminal Courts 
Ordinance was intended to expedite the trial of saboteurs and 
provide a chance for reviewing the cases already tried in the 
subordinate courts. 

The Government of India, in a communication to provin- 
cial Governments on 27 August .^,942, asked them to use provi- 
sions of chapter IV of the Criminal Procedure Code and parti- 
cularly section 42 thereof, whereby every member of the public 
was bound to give information relating to sabotage etc. to the 
local authorities. By exercising the powers of Defence of India 
Rule, 59A, the Government could employ all persons who were 
above sixteen and below fifty, living within one mile for the pro- 
tection of railway, telephone and telegraph lines. In the same 
way, persons living wiihin three miles would be responsible for 
the protection of Tehsil headquarters, police stations or other 
Government property. The provincial Governments were also 
asked to direct their subordinates that they should open fire im- 
mediately without hesitation and without giving any warning to 
any person or persons engaged in acts of sabotage.®® The pro- 
vincial Governments at their levels assured the police that there 
would be no future enquiry into their activities. 

As the use of the army for controlling the disturbances be- 
came a regular feature, the Government passed the Armed 
Forces (Special Powers) Ordinance, 1942, empowering an officer 

84. India, Legislative Assembly Debates^ Official report, vol. 3, session 
1942, cols. 141-6. 

The troops deployed comprised about fifty-seven and half batta- 
lions (equivalent to more (ban eight brigades.) Home Political File 
No. 3/89/42. 

85. Home Political File No. 3/26/42. 

86. Home Political File No. 3/28/42. 



of the rank of captain and above to arrest a person and use as 
much force as might be necessary even to the extent of causing 
death. The person thus arrested was to be surrendered to the 
nearest police station. The millitary oflBcer. howtfver, could 
not prosecute or carry out legal proceedings. 

The Viceroy even permitted, as early as 15 August, the 
machine gunning of saboteurs from air. Naturally it was decid- 
ed that such actions would not be published.®’ 

In order to prevent the recurrence of attacks on lines of 
communication, the Government imposed collective fines on the 
inhabitants of certain areas. The Viceroy believed that in the 
existing circumstances collective fines would provide a potent 
deterrent.®® He directed the provincial Governors that “there 
should if possible be no remission of collective fines and that 
fines that have been impos^f^d should be collected with utmost 
energy.” He rebuked the Governors of Bihar and U.P. for 
granting remissions to some localities and reminded them that 
the imposition of collective fines was an effective method of 
keeping up pressure on the Congress and its supporters.®® 

Some provincial Governments went a step further and, 
for their own convenience, imposed the whole burden of fine on 
firms, companies, landlords, merchants, employers, or owners 
of property on the ground that their employees and tenants 
were involved in the disturbances. The justice, equity or the 
expediency of such a method was vainly questioned by the 
Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry.®® 

In order to reward the Muslims who kept aloof from the 
movement and to induce others to follow suit, the Government 
exempted them from the payment of collective fines. The bait 
thus offered was not entirely wasted. Soon some railway 
employees, armed personnel and depressed classes demanded 
similar exemption. Only too obliged, the Government decided 
that “the principle granting exemption to Muslims should apply 
mutatis mutandis to all other communities or sections of the 
populace in respect of whom it is a legitimate presumption 

87. ibid. 

88. Home Political File No- 3/48/42. 

89. Home Political File No. 3/106/42. 

90. Home Political File No, 3/48/42, 

im M^ss uwimoB 

that they did not as a general rule take part in the 

The Government knew that its massive eflforts would be of 
no avail, if it could not control the press, a major section of 
which was supporting the Congress. B.J. Kirchner, Chief 
Press Advisor to the Government of India warned the news- 
paper editors well in time on 31 July 1942, “to refrain from 
giving publicity to statements and articles which contain direct 
or indirect incitement to support the threatened movement.”®* 
After the arrest of the leaders and the beginning of the out- 
break, the Government proceeded to tighten its control on the 
press. For it was realized that “disorders are infectious and 
news of what has occurred in one place may often lead to its 
repetition in a number of other places.”®® The All India Radio 
too, was instructed to pay as little, attention to the disturbances 
as possible. 

The Government also apprehended that figures and news 
regarding the movement might be utilised by enemy broad- 
casts.®^ Consequently, on 8 August 1942, the Defence of India 
Rule 41 (i)fb) was enforced, prohibiting the printing or publish- 
ing of any factual news in relation to the mass movement 
sanctioned by the AICC or the measures taken by the Govern- 
ment against the movement, except the news emanating from 
authorised agencies such as, the Associated Press of India, the 
United Press of India or the Orient Press of India and from 
Government registered correspondents.®® 

The Standing Committee of the All India Newspaper 
Editors’ Conference met on 24 and 25 August 1942, and reques- 
ted the Government to withdraw these restrictions, since they 
violated the spirit of the Delhi agreement, which had governed 
relations between the Government and the press during the 
period of the Individual Civil Disobedience movement. The 
Standing Committee agreed to accept a general order of “pre- 
censorship” of news under Defence of India Rule 41 (i)(a), 
especially if the scrutiny could be carried out in association with 

91. Home Political File No. 83/43. 

92. Home Political File No. 3/13/42. 

93. Home Political File No. 3/26/42. 

94. Home Political File No. 3/101/42. 

95. Home Political File No. 3/73/42. 



the representatives of the press themselves. It also agreed not 
to publish news about communication interruption and strikes 
in war factories.®® The Government first withdrew the 8 
August order from Delhi and finally from rest of India by 1 
November 1942. 

A section of the Indian Press, however, felt dissatisfied 
with the stand taken by the All India Newspaper Editors’ Con- 
ference, seceded from this body, and founded the Press Asso- 
ciation of India on 15 September 1942, with Ram Nath 
Goenka (Editor, Indian Express) as chairman and Devadas 
Gandhi (Hindustan Times), K. Rama Rao {National Herald), 
K.P. Narayan and Samaldas Gandhi as members. This body 
appealed to the nationalist press to cease publication immedia- 
tely against Government’s recent prohibitive orders. Devadas 
Gandhi resigned from the Standing Committee of the All India 
Newspaper Editors’ Conference and from tne Central Press 
Advisory Committee. K. Rama Rao also resigned from the 
former body. The Press Association of India submitted an- 
other memorandum to the Government, criticizing the imposi- 
tion of political censorship.®’ 

Gandhi’s Harijan became the first victim of the Govern- 
ment’s repressive measures. The issue of the Harijan dated 
16 August 1942 was forfeited by the Government for carrying 
prejudicial articles. The Bombay Government seized the 
Navajivan Mudranalaya, Ahraedabad, and destroyed all the 
old copies of the Harijan and along with them some books, 
leaflets and other miscellaneous papers.®® 

The nationalist newspapers, in response to Gandhi’s 
advice on 8 August 1942, and as a mark of protest against the 
Government’s repressive measures, decided to suspend their 
publications from 16 August to 6 September 1942. About 

96. Home Political File No. 3/26/42. 

97. Home Political File No. 3/13/42. 

K. Srinivasan of T/ie C.R. Srinivasan of Swadesmittan, 
K. Srinivasan of Free Press Journal of India, S.A. Brelvi of Bombay 
Chronicle, Tushar Kanti Ghosh of Amrita Bazar and J.A. 

Sahani of National Call and Salivati Eswaran. editor of SoUvatVs 
Newsletter were also carrying on a ceaseless agitation, directed osten- 
sibly against official encroachments on the liberty of the press 
Home Political File No. 3/47/43. 

98. Home Political File No. 4/5/44, 



seventeen English papers went on strike.®® Of these, seven 
including the Amrita Bazar Patrika (Calcutta) reappeared on 
31 August 1942, at the request of the All India Newspaper 
Editors’ Conference. i®® 

Instead of helping the Government to tide over the 
situation, the suspension of nationalist papers created fresh 
complications. The temporary disappearance of these news- 
papers helped the rumour-mongers to the disadvantage of the 
Government. The whole of India turned into a whispering 
gallery. There was none to deny the authenticity of the 

The Government was so keen to muzzle the press mainly 
because of its unwillingness to make public the excesses 
committed by the army and police in suppressing the move- 
ment, particularly in U P. and iBihar. The Governments of 
U.P. and Bihar subsequently moved the Centre for the promul- 
gation of a Central Indemnity Legislation to give protection to 
the police, army and magistracy which carried out many extra- 
legal activities in dealing with the situation. Stressing the need 
for a measure to legalise the illegal excesses of the Government’s 
agents, the U,P. Governor wrote to the Viceroy on 22 Septem- 
ber 1942 : ‘‘There is no doubt that quite apart from firing 
upon looters and rioters, there were things done both by the 
police and by soldiers which are not covered by any provision 
of law. ”1®^ Giving an illustration of unlawful activities of his 
oflScers, he wrote to the Viceroy on 21 October 1942’®® : 

99. The important papers were, Amrita Bazar Patrika (Calcutta), TAe 
Advance {OdXzMXXo), Hindustan Standard {CdAcund), Hindustan Times 
(New Delhi), Indian Express (Mdiditis) National Herald (Luck- 
now). As regards the vernacular press, nine Bengali, twenty Hindi, 
four Gujarati, six Tamil, nine Telugu, eight Marathi, two Sindhi, 
one Urdu, one Oriya, two Assamese, two Malayalam and three 
Kannada papers were on strike. 

Bombay Oovemment banned two Marathi papers. Bengal 
Government banned three Bengali papers. Bihar Government banned 

Home Political File No. 3/105/42. 

100. Ibid. 

101. Hallett (U.P.) to Linlithgow, 22 September 1942. Home Political 
File No. 3/42/42. 

tOZ. Hallett (U.P.) to Majswell, 21 Ocitber 1942, Ibid. 



...a relief party would make its slow way up a demolished 
railway track, mending as it went, and took hostages from 
the villages through which it passed as security ajeainst the 
cutting of the line behind. This was in the early days 
before the principle of collective security was enforced. 
The procedure was bluff, nothing could be done to the 
hostages, but the device on occasions proved effective. 
Yet it was certainly illegal. 

As regards collection of collective fines, Hallett said, 
“collections were made at times without regular assessment, 
and was tak'.n at times in kind at a valuation. All this was 
necessary, as the essence was speed, but. ..the rough and ready 
immediate realization of collective fines... was not covered 
by law.“^o* 

The District Magistrate of Azamgaih, R.H. Niblett, 
admitted that the burning of houses and the imposition of 
collective fines were acts meant for penalising the Congress 
sympathizers. As an example of what he called “official 
dacoity,” he referred to the burning of a Harijan Ashram at 
Dohrighat because it was headed by Swami Satyanand, a 
Congressmen. In the Azamgarh district, the police burnt many 
houses belonging to Congressmen even though they were not 
involved in any lawless acts.^®‘ 

Identical confessions were received by Delhi Irom Patna. 
Many “acts were done in the nature of physical violence, 
searches and burning of houses which the law docs not justify” ; 
and “some Government officers burnt houses or carried out 
indiscriminate pets after they had received clear orders not to 
do so.” “There were other cases where persons were shot 
while trying to run away on the approach of troops or to 
escape through cordons where a round up for the purpose of 
arresting w^anted men was in progress. Sometimes such persons 
were not wanted men but simply ran away through fright.” 
There were other specimens of highhandedness by the magis- 
tracy and the police^®® : 

98. Wid 

99. R.H. Niblett, The Congress Rebellion in Azamgarh (Allahabad, 
GovernmeTit of Uttar Pradesh, 1957), pp. 49-50. 

100. Home Political File No. 3/42/42. 

The Maharaja of Darbbanga alleged at the meeting of the 



One District Magistrate who was completely cut off, 
finding that he could not use the Collective Fines Ordi- 
nance as it stood, promulgated an Ordinance of his own. 
The methods used in collecting the fines were often such 
as are not contemplated in the Ordinance and this was 
necessary to secure the essential moral effect of speedy 
realization... Arms and radio sets were in some cases called 
in or seized without waiting for the usual legal procedure 
and forced labour was employed under duress to repair 
sabotage and remove obstructions to communications. 

Thus though Martial law was not formally imposed, its 
spirit was very much in evidence in both U.P. and Bihar. 
Despite the pressure from the two provincial Governments, 
however, the Government of India refused to pass any all India 
Indemnity legislation. Instead, allowed the U.P* and Bihar 
Governments to promulgate individually the Ordinance entitled 
“Maintenance and Restoration of Order (Idemnity) Act, 1943. 

It was designed to serve the same purpose. 

Though never oflBcially admitted, even greater excesses 
were committed in certain other areas. At Chimur in C.P., 
for instance, looting and rape were committed on such a large 
scale that an inmate of Gandhi’s Asharm at Sewagram, J.P. 
Bhansali, fasted for sixty-two days in a futile bid to make the 
Government order a thorough enquiry into the incidents. 
Dr. B.S. Moonje, the Hindu Mahasabha leader, visited Chimur 
on 25 September 1942, No less an ardent supporter of the war 
effort than Dr. B S. Moonje, the Hindu Mahasabha leader, was 
constrained to say that Chimur offered a pnma/flcie case for 
an enquiryio’^ : 

National Defence Council in November 1942 that without any legal 
authority thousands of radio sets were confiscated and fire arms 
seized without any consideration. As be put it: “The fire arms in 
the possession :>( respectable people were taken away from them by 
the authorities not because they had done anything wrong but on the 
ground that they had not come in actively to the assistance of law and 
order.'* Home Political File No. 3/81/42. 

106. Later on Bengal also felt the necessity for such o legislation. The 
other provincial Governments, however, were rot in favour of it. 
Home Political File No, 3/42/42. 

107. Dr. B.S. Moonje 's press statement. 22 October 1942. Home Political 

File No. 3/54/42. 



There was a detachment of Indian troops at Ashti and 
one of British troops at Chimur ; but it appears that the 
civiil officials at Chimur were not abb to keep as good 
control over the troops at Chimur as at Ashti ; otherwise, 
the happenings at Chimur would not have taken place as 
nothing of the kind happened at Ashti. Under the 
circumstances how can the Government hope to convince 
the people of their innocence or want of responsibility in 
the matter. 

The Government remained unmoved. Its attitude towards 
the question of police excesses was clearly and forcefully stated 
by Reginald Maxwell, the Home Member, before the Central 
Assembly on 15 September 1942^®® : 

Complaints of the use of excessive force have no real 
meaning in situations such as those with which the police 
have had to deal. It cannot be expected of a small band 
of police confronted by a threatening mob that they 
should make mathematical calculations of the precise 
amount of force necessary to disperse it... Their first 
concern is to take effective action and it is their duty 
to do so. 

Aided by its ruthlessness of intention and execution, the 
Government was further helped by the fact that by and large 
the people were unarmed and the movement lacked organiza- 
tion. Within weeks the task of suppression was over. By the 
middle of September the situation was under control. Virtually 
a reign of terror obtained in the country, and yet there were 
people who refused to be cowed down. They remained under- 
ground, preparing patiently and painstakingly for another 

108- India, Legislative Assembly Debates^ official report, vol. 3, session 
1942, cols 141-6. 



QNE of the distinguishing features of the Quit India move- 
ment was that the mass upsurge was accompanied by a 
fairly well-organized underground resistance movement. After 
the arrest of the top Congress leaders on 9 August 1942, a 
number of junior Congress leaders, present in Bombay in 
conneciion with the AICC session, went underground and began 
to function as the AICC.^ With a view to channelising the 
sporadic and uncoordinated energies of the people into an 
organised movement, they decided to establish underground 

1. Among these leaders were, Mrs. Sucheta Kripalani, Dr. Rammanohar 
Lohia, Ram Nandan Mishra, Achyut Patvardhao, and Sadiq Ali, 
Home Political File No. 4/4/44, National Archives, New Delhi. 

After sometime, Girdhari Kripalani, Balkrishna Keskar, 
Dwarkanath Kachru and Ram Sevak Pandey joined the underground 
group. Ram Sevak Pandey’s statement. Home Political File No. 

Besides them, there were also Purushottam Trikamdas, Mohanlal 
Saxena, Sadashiv Mahadev Joshi, Sane Guruji, Kamala Devi 
Cbattopadhyaya and Poornima Bannerjee. Ookar Sharad, Lohia 
(Delhi, 1972), p. 100. 

Most of them had assumed nicknames in order to escape detec- 
tion, e.g., Sucheta Kripalani— Dadi ; Rammanohar Lohia— Doctor ; 
Baba Raghav Das— Dldi ; Aruna Asaf Ali—Kadam ; Achyut 
Patvardhan— Kusum ; and Badiq Ali— -Satya, Sushila etc. The person 
who acted as intermediary between the AICC office and the Central 
Directorate was known as ^‘Kikaji.’* 

Home Political File No. 3/70/43. 


tHU QUIT INDIA movement 

cells all over the country as a necessary preliminary step 
to yards cairyiog on a mass insurrection in the country. 

The underground AICC firsi set up its office at room 
number 30, on the second floor ol'Petladhis Mala No* 69/87, 
Calnedral Street, Bombay.'^ Besides this office, Rammanohar 
Lohia, Acliyut Palwardhan and Sucheta Kripalani formed a 
separate cell, known as the Central Directorate of AICC. 
Later on Aruaa Asaf Aii joined this group. Both the groups, 
however, functioned in close cooperation with each other. 
They did not merge togeter possibly to maintain secrecy and to 
deceive the police inielligence. The Central Directorate was 
more important than the AICC office so far as the organization 
of the underground movement was concerned. 

The AICC used to receive information from the Central 
Directorate, which the former used to pass on to the Bombay 
workers for being typed, printetl or cyclostyled as they desired. 
The Central Directorate also used to send propaganda bulletins 
to the AICC office for onward transmission to different pro- 
vincial units. These propaganda materials easily received 
respectability at the provincial level because they bore the mark 
of the AICC. Sometimes the Bombay office used to send two 
hundred envelopes a day. Important instructions to different 
places were sent through couriers from Bombay. 

The Central Directorate in Bombay was in a way the 
underground headquarters of the Congress Socialist party. It 
found a useful modus operand!^ according to which the Director- 
ate could communicate its own plans and programme through 
the AICC office to different provinces, where these were 
accepted without any questioning. Although prior to 1942, 
the party had no large mass base, except in U.P. and Bihar, it 
now played a dominant role in the underground movement. As 
a Government report stated : “The Congress Socialist party 
from being a left-wing revolutionary group within Congress, 
subject to the limitations imposed by the right-wing leaders, 
became overnight the controlling group of the whole Congress 

2. The Office was run by Sadiq Ali (the office Secretary of the AlCC)i 
Ram Charao Pandey (clerk), Gangadbar B. Pathkey (typist) and 
Moliram (peon). Home Political File No. 3/70/43. 

in March I 43, the office was shifted to Room No. 16 on the 
second floor of Govind Building, Khetwadi Main Road, Bombay. Ibid. 


organization... The tail began to wag the dog.” The Govern- 
ment, however, was not prepared to shift the blame from the 
Congress to the Congress Socialist party. As the same report 
commented : “The dog could not disclaim responsibility on 
the ground that it was wagged by the tail.”® 

Intending to organize a revolutionary guerilla warfare in 
the country, the Congress Socialist party wanted to popularise 
such guerilla tactics as raids, ambushes and sabotage. The 
objective was first to dislocate the official machinery and then 
to attack the means of communication, particularly the supply 
lines. There would also be efforts for the subversion of the 
police and the army. Attempts would be made to have a mass 
uprising to synchronise with all this. Finally, preparations 
would be made for the seizure of power and the setting up of a 
rebel administration.^ 

It seems the Congress Sociaftst party had formulated some 
plans even prior to August 1942. According to reports reaching 
the Government, the party had organized a secret Congress 
corps in Bombay, Bihar, U.P., Bengal and Punjab. Asoka 
Mehta in Bombay, Ram Nandan Mishra in Bihar, Balkrishna 
Keskar along with Rajaram Shastri and Dr. Kaushal 3 a Nand 
Gairola in U.P., and Tahliani, a student leader, iu Karachi were 
to act as secret dictators. In the Central Provinces, “The 
Hindustan Red Army” would be organizing underground 
activiiics. Keshav Deo Malaviya was expected to take part in 
the underground movement in U.P.® The Forward Bloc gave 
unstinted support to the programme of the Congress Socialist 
party. Some rank and file Communist members and most of 
the terrorist groups also participated in the movement. 

The Central Directorate issued a blueprint for mass action 
in both rural and urban areas. It asked the villagers to declare 
independence immediately and then to raid the thana, tehsil 
and district headquarters, the symbols of British administration. 
It wanted such raids to be carried out simultaneouly all over the 
country. The culminating point of these raids would be reached 
when the spontaneously awakened but organized energies of 

3. Home Political File No. 111/43. 

4. Ibid, 

5. Home Political File No. 3/31/42. 



the people in their thousands raided the district headquarters. 
The government machinery would then not only be paralysed 
but shattered. At that moment or while the operation was on, 
a parallel authority of the people would be formed. Th^t would 
be the beginning of the Free Indian States. This was to be 
achieved within four weeks. 

As regards urban areas, the circular gave a call for an 
indefinite general strike.® In another appeal to the workers, 
the Directorate asked them to organize street and mohalla 
committees to protect themselves from the army and the police. 
The Directorate further asked for continued strike, disruption 
of communications, immobilization of the army and dislocation 
of the supply lines.’ Another document suggested that “the 
linkage” of economic slavery, connecting the cities and the 
villages, should be snapped by cutting off all communication 
arteries, such as roads, railsj' telephone and telegraph wires. 
“Break up this linkage in all its joints and the seven hundred 
thousand villages of India would recover the vigourand prosperity 
of freedom,... India can overthrow the British usurpers, if she 
atomises herself, and she can also brave a new invader should 
he be fool-hardy to come.”® On the question of application of 
violence as a means to attain independence, the Central 
Directorate pointed out : “It is no longer true that armed 
revolt against the usurper administration is entirely unpractical. 
British arms have become a term of derision and there is just a 
chance that roving guerillas in all parts of the country may 
succeed against them.”® 

To carry out more effective propaganda, the Central 
Directorate established an underground radio station in 
Bombay. At the suggestion of Rammanohar Lohia and 
Dahayabhai Patel, one Vithaldas (Babubhai) Khakar set up, on 
20 August, a transmission centre on the top floor of a building 
(“Sea View”) in Chowpatty, Bombay. Technical assistance and 
expertise were provided by Chicago Radio and Telebponc 

6. Congress Responsibility For The Disturbances 1942^3 (New Delhi, 
Government of todia, 1943), pp. 74-7. 

7. pp. 77-84. 

8. File No. G-26 (p. 3) of 1942, AICC Nehru Memorial Museum, 
New Delhi. 

9. Ibid, 



Company. It first came on the alt on 3 September 1942 at 
8.45 P.M. on 41.78 metres. Its broadcasting life extended only 
upto 12 November 1942. “This is Congress Radio calling from 
somewhere in India”— thus it announced its existence to the 
listeners throughout this time. It mostly used to carry Congress 
propaganda materials supplied by Rammanohar Lohia and 
Purshottam Tricumdas. Besides Khakar, other persons con- 
nected with the enterprise were Vithaldas K. Jhaveri, Usha 
Mehta and Chandrakant Babubhai Jhaveri. To avoid detection, 
the transmission centre had very often to be shifted from one 
place to another. While it was planning to shift for the sixth 
time, the police got the clue, and on 12 November 1942, they 
raided room no. 106 of Parekh Wadi building at 9.5 P.M. and 
arrested Usha Mehta and Chandrakant B. Jhaveri while they 
were busy transmitting the programme. Besides this trans- 
mitting set, the police also s*eized two more sets, 120 gramo- 
phone records, which were valued at Rs. 7,000 to Rs. 10,000, 
22 tin cases, containing about 14,000 ft. of photo and sound 
films of the last AICC session. At first the local police wanted 
to destroy them, but finding that they possessed “considerable 
historical interest,” it decided to preserve them.i® 

The Government was elated. It thought that the Congress 
could now be convincingly dubbed “Fifth Columnist.” It was 
sure that the Congress radio had definite connections with the 
Japanese and Japanese controlled radio stations. The hope was 
not fulfilled as it was discovered ihat “the broadcasts were 
confined mainly to Congress propaganda speeches, news items 
and directions to the public in furtherance of the civil dis- 
obedience movement.” What the Congress radio had done was 
to emphasise that Congress stood for higher things like peace, 
a prosperous peasantry, goodwill to the best in all countries, 
and removal of foreign domination.^! 

And yet, Reginald Maxwell, the Home Member in his 
speech at the National Defence Council meeting in November 
1942, alleged that the Japanese had definite connections with 
the underground activities of the Congress. He even claimed 
that “a fair number out of those smuggled into the country by 

10. Home Political File No. 3/44/43. 

11, Ibid. 



land or sea were recently caught/’^^ This biased official view 
about the Japanese complicity with the Indian underground 
resistance movement was never proved. Possibly it was^art of 
a baseless and mischievous propaganda to malign the Congress. 

Apart from the Central Directorate, several junior 
Congress leaders at the provincial level went underground and 
circulated leaflets mentioning various types of programme. A 
“Free India” bulletin instructed that people should take up the 
destruction of railway communications by removing rails, 
cutting wires and destroying bridges. The best thing would be 
to concentrate on railway stations. It also asked the people to 
bum the police chowkies and petrol tanks. As for policemen, 
the instruction stated : “Make the policeman look as one of 
you ; that is relieve him of his uniform and disarm him. This 
is a noble service for the nation ; for in this way you convert a 
slave into a freeman.” Villagers were exhorted to boycott 
those who came to collect taxes. 

In a hand- written note, Keshav Deo Malaviva, an under- 
ground activist of U.P. (his assumed name was Narain), 
suggested, inter alia, that efforts should be made to win over the 
police. Thanas should be rendered useless. A non-cooperative 
policeman was to be socially boycotted. Weapons of the 
police-armoury should be captured. Railways should be 

12, Home Political File No. 3/84/42. 

The Secretary of State for India, in his memorandum to the War 
Cabinet on 14 October 1942, stated : 

“...the intelligence authorities siill have no direct evidence to 
support the theory of enemy agency. It is recognised that is a 
possibility that cannot be ruled out, and it is not overlooked that the 
large number of refugees from Burma have almost certainly included 
some Japanese agents. It is to be recognised also, that Axis broad- 
casts may well have played some part tfough its extent cannot be 
estimated in stimulating subversive activities, particularly in areas 
such as Bengal, where the influence of Subhas Chandra Bose persists.** 
Nicholas Mansergh, ed.. The Transfer of Power 1942-7, Vol 3, 21 
September 1942-12 June 1943 (London. 1971), p. 129. 

Linlithgow, in a communication to all Provincial Governors on 2 
November 1942, mentioned that some Indian businessmen headed by 
Birla brothers, collaborating with the Japanese financiers, were 
helping the Congress organization with a view to establishing their 
financial domination over India. Ibid., p. 190. 

13. Home Political File No. 



tampered with in such a way that human lives were not lost and 
people should be warned that there was danger to their lives if 
they would travel by rail after 15 October \W^ 

The U.P, Government seized another interesting document 
issued in the name of the ‘‘War Council, U.P. Congress,” which 
contained detailed instructions regarding attack on communica- 
tions and police stations^^ : 

There should be a map in each district showing 
(a) Kachcha and Pucca roads, railway stations with their 
distances from one another, railway bridges and culverts, 
whether patrolled by police guards or not. (b) Petrol and 
Kerosine installations, showing the quantity and protective 
measures, if any. (c) Aerodromes and Government grain 
htores, cantonments, war production centres, (d) Hydro- 
electric stations, (e) Pomace stations and post offices, 
showing the total strength of the force and the number of 
arms and ammunition kept and the distance from head- 
quarters. (f) Lists of persons bearing arms and the 
number of arms, (g) Lists of persons who opposed 
Congress, (h) Lists of persons who can shelter Congress 
workers at the time of necessity, (i) Lists of absconding 
Congress workers and details of their work, close touch 
should be maintained with them, (j) Cutting of wires 
should be continued. Insulators on tops of poles should 
be destroyed, (k) Transprt of war materials should be 
hindered. (!) The destruction of Government records 
and papers is beneficial to the tenants. 

Even a more comprehensive scheme was issued in the name 
of the Utkal Provincial Congress Committed® : 

1. Let single workers proceed to a particular area, 
organize 200/500 people there and explain them the 
working programme. Let the people also be explained 
that there may be firing and lathi charge as a result 
of doing this and so let them come prepared. Let a 
day be fixed as soon as possible. Care should also 
be taken for this. In the event of any apprehension, 

14. Home Political File No. 3/31/42. 

15. Home Political File No. 3/19/43, 

16. Home Political File No. 3/31/42. 



it is better not to go armed. A brave and fearless 
person should be the leader of this batch. 

2. All the roads nearer to the police station shf)uld be 
examined before. Arrangements should be made to 
cut down trees on the side of those roads and to 
block the roads by them on the night previous to the 
raid. It should be seen that no reinforcement can 
reach there from outside. 

3. When there is a post office close to the police station, 
both should be raided simultaneously. Immediate 
information may be transmitted through post office. 
Therefore, cut the wire communications and bury the 
posts on the previous night, as if they cannot be 
replaced quickly. 

4. The work will commence in the last part of night 
when the police employees will not be on the alert 
and in the morning thana will be raided. 

5. Surround first of all the magazine. Then ask the 
police employees to surrender. Don’t allow any one 
of them to go outside. As a matter of the first sign 
of their surrendering, they should set fire to their 
uniform and records. Ask them the key and take 
away whatever arms are there to safe unknown place. 
Some people armed with lathis should guard the 
police. Then set the Thana house on fire. The 
place where arms would be kept concealed should not 
be disclosed to others. This work should be done 
by very reliable persons. If there is no such oppor- 
tunity, then throw them into a river nearby or into 
the thana tank. In order to test the police employees, 
keep them under watch for some days. If their 
family and children are with them, take care that 
they are not ill-treated. 

6. Just after the capture of thana, send information 
everywhere. Then after a few days convene a big 
meeting there and announce the formation of a small 
panchayat... It will be an advantage if this sort of 
work is done simultaneously in the police stations 
nearby. The earlier the better. 



As regards funds, the underground activists initiatty received 
good response from the Indian business community and were 
able to collect a good amount of money in the name of the 
Indian National Congress. At a later stage, guerilla bands 
were encouraged to undertake political dacoities in order to 
raise funds for local units. 

Regional guerilla units used to collect arms and ammuni- 
tion from their own locality. The Central Directorate might 
have supplied an insignificant number of arms and ammunition 
to the regional units. In Bihar, arms and ammunition were 
collected from Nepal Terai. In many places, spears and other 
weapons were manufactured from fish-plates, and other pieces of 
metal taken from railway godowns and tracks. In some areas, 
the guerillas captured arms from police armoury, running trains 
and even sometimes from militj-ry ammunition depots. They 
also collected private arms such as, single and double barrel 
shot guns. In most of the places, they had their own units for 
manufacturing bombs and grenades.^^ 


The underground resistance movement received a great 
fillip with the escape, on 9 November 1942, of Jayaprakash 
Narayan, the general Secretary of the Congress Socialist party, 
along with five other political prisoners from the Hazaribagh 
Central Jail in Bihar.^® He moved from place to place, contact- 

17 Home Political File No. 18/9/42, Fortnightly report, Bihar, Septcni her 

18. These five were— Ram Nandan Mishra, Jogendra Sukul, Suraj 
Narayan Singh, Saligram Singh and Gulali Sonar of Hindustan 
Socialist Republican Army. All of them were members of the Con- 
gress Socialist Party, Home Political File No. 18/11/42, Fortnightly 
report, Bihar, November 1942. 

After their escape, Jayaprakash Narayan and his associates 
entered the Gaya district. They then divided themselves into two 
groups. One, consisting of Jayaprakash, Ramnandan Mishra and 
Saligram Singh, proceeded towards Banaras, and the other, consist- 
ing of Jogendra Sukul, Suraj Narayan Singh and Gulali Sonar went 
to North Bihar. But soon (4 December 1942) Jogendra Sukul was 
arrested at Muzafiarpur. From Banaras Jayaprakash went to Delhi 
to chalk out a programme of tction. From Delhi, he proceeded to 



cd hiding Congress workers, and inculcated in them a fighting 
spirit to prolong and intensify the struggle against the British 
Raj. Without losing much time, he established contact with 
the Central Directorate in Bombay. In order to orgaftiize the 
whole underground resistance movement in a proper way, to 
train up guerilla fighters, and in general to prepare for the 
launching of a new offensive in the near future, Jayaprakash 
Narayan soon issued his first letter. To All Fighters For Freedom 
(15 pages) from ‘'somewhere in India.” He also issued two 
pamphlets dealing with the organization of guerilla bands and 
their training. One was named A.B.C. of Dislocation (16 pages) 
and the other Instructions — sabotage and communications (24 
pages).i® The second booklet was prepared with the help of 
“restricted” official work, Demolitions Field Engineering Pam- 
phlet No. 7, published by Engjneer-in-Chief*s branch in 1^ 40. 

Justifying the use of violence, Jayaprakash Narayan 
argued that the Congress was bound by the Bombay resolution 
to fight aggression with violence. Once Britain was named as 
on aggressor, there was every justification now to fight her 
with arms. As he put it 

Bombay and stayed there for three months. From Bombay he went 
to Madras and from there he came to Calcutta. In Calcutta, a web 
of secret organization was formed with many cells to help in carrying 
out the programme for the success of the people’s Revolution. A 
separate code for receiving and sending out information was framed. 
Jayaprakesh with Suraj Narayan Singh and Vijaya (youngest sister of 
Achyut Patvardhan) proceeded lo Nepal. Nepal was to fe the all- 
India centre of the Azad Dasla K.K. Dutta, History of the Freedom 
Movement in Bihar, Vol 3. 79^2-47 (Patna, 1958) pp. 269-73. 

19. Home Political File No. 3/68/43. Police first seized these two book- 
lets in course of their investigation of the Poona Capital Cinema 
Bomb case. Later Delhi police found, on 8 May 1943, two similar 
works in possession ol Jiwaram Paliwal, an underground activist of 
Delhi. The Government of India immediately alerted other provincial 
Government “to do their utmost to prevent the circulation** of these 
documents. Home Political File No. 3/64/43. 

20. Congress Responsibility, n. 6. p. 73. Rammanohar Lohia, another 
front-rank Congress Socialist, expressing his views on violence in 
Ni th August (26 January 1944) said that he would not use sophistry 
to hide his intentions ; rather he would not care for Gandhiji’s con- 
demnation nor would he try to justify his stand. File No. 0-55/1946 
AlCC Nehru Memorial Museum. Two other Congress Socialists, 
Achyut Patvardhan and Aruha Asaf AH expressed their views on 



My own interpretation of the Congress position — not 
Gandhiji’s — is clear and definite. Congress is prepared 
to fight aggression violently if the country became inde- 
pendent. Well, we have declared ourselves independent, 
and also named Britain as an aggressive power ; we are, 
therefore, justified within the terms of the Bombay resolu- 
tion itself to fight Britain with arms. If this docs not 
accord with Gandhi’s principles, that is not my fault. The 
Working Committee and (he AICC themselves have 
chosen to differ from Gandhiji and to reject his conception 
of non-violence as applied to the war. 

I should add that I have no hesitation in admitting 
that non-violence of the brave, if practised on a sufficiently 
large scale, would make violence unnecessary, but where 
such non-violence is absent, J should not allow cowardice, 
clothed in Shastric subtleties, to block the development of 
this revolution and lead to its failure. 

Jayaprakash Narayan attributed the failure of the first 
phase of the movement to three factors. First, there was a 
lack of organization to lead the resurgent masses. Second, there 
was absence of a full programme of revolution. Third, all parts 
of the country did not rise simultaneously. Besides, due to lack 
of knowledge and training people failed to create their own 
power and resist the reconquest of the liberated areas.*^ The 
masses did well in tackling the negative tasks of the revolution 
and indeed went on a destructive spree ; but they ignored 
the positive and creative aspect of the movement. They forgot 
about the formation of revolutionary units and people’s police 
and militia forces. To keep up mass-enthusiasm during an ebb 
period in the “Evolution of a Revolution,” Jayaprakash 

non-violence thus : “The Congress has more than once sought the 
freedom to interpret the general policy of non:vioIence in a form not 
acceptable to Gandhiji . . . Indian National Congress is a political 
organization pledged to win political independence of the country. 
It is not an institution for organizing world peace. Honestly we can- 
not go as far as Mahatma Gandhi wants us to go. Most of us felt 
that we were not able to take up the grave responsibility of declaring 
that we would completely eschew violence when we have to deal with 
widespread internal disorder in this country or external aggression,” 
Amrita Bazar Patrika (Calcutta), 18 January 1946* 

21. Honoe Political File No. 3/64/43. 



Narayan wanted the guerilla bands to continue “skirmishes,” 
“frontier activities.” “minor clashes,” “sniping,” “patrolling” 
etc. as a preparation for the second offensive. 22 

The A,B,C, of Dislocation was full of guidelines Tor sabo- 
tage works. Participant groups in each district of the province 
would be known as “Azad Dastas.” Each group was to be a 
band of shock troopers, a sort of advance guard. With proper 
technical and political training, they were to wage guerilla war- 
fare against the enemy. There were two hundred and fifty dis- 
tricts in India. In a district of average size two hundred and 
fifty Azads might be organized into five Jathas with fifty Azads 
each, which could be further sub-divided into twenty-five Dastas 
wilh ten Azads each. Every member of the Dasta could use 
the title of “Azad” as a suffix to his surname. An Azad had 
to take the following pledge kefore entering into the Dastas**: 

1, a citizen of the Republic of India and true son of 
Mother India, do solemnly pledge that I, as an Azad, 
shall not cease fighting the British usurper till the 
Republic of India is established and the free flag of the 
Republic flies from one end of country to the other. 

I pledge my unquestioned loyalty to the Indian Revo- 
lution and do solemnly declare that I shall be ready to 
lay down my life in its service. 

I pledge further to obey implicitly the orders of my 
officers and to observe strict military discipline. 

Should I by weakness, cowardice or evil design, 
violate this oath and betray the interest of my people, may 
I suffer any punishment, including death, at the hands of 
my comrades. 

It was provided that the leader of the group must be 
elected and he should carry out work through joint consulta- 
tions. Political workers, school teachers, college students, 
deserters from the army and the police could become the 
Dastadars (Commander of the Azad Dastas) and Jathadars 
(Commander of the Azad Jathas). There might not be any 
central organization. But at the district level, there must be 
close co-operation and co-ordination. An Azad Subedar 

22. Congress Responsibility, n. 6, pp* 7(M. 

23. Home Political File No. 3/64/43, 



would be held responsible for the general guidance of the Azad 
movement for the entire province. The Subedar could appoint 
Azad Ziladars from among the Jathadars. The Elastadars were 
subordinates to the Jathadars. The finance, rations and other 
provisions could be collected from locally available sources. 
In times of necessity, they could resort to dacoities also. In 
all matters they were to be self-sufficient. They must be able to 
win moral and material support of the local people for their 
cause. The Dastas would have their base camps in the hilly 
and jungle tracts. A trained cadre of revolutionaries would 
thus be formed, whose plan of action would be : (a) dislocation 
of communications and of the war effort, (b) depriving 
Government treasuries of money, and (c) raids for destruction 
of the centres of enemy's authority and for disarming them. 
There was also a detailed ^lan for the training of the 

The second booklet, Instructions — Sabetoge and Comrnu- 
nications, was meant for the Azad Dastas. It gave a detailed 
exposition of the methods of committing acts of sabotage. It 
dealt with (i) dislocation of communications — telegraph and 
telephone wires and installations, railways, roads and highways, 
postal services, wireless etc. ; (ii) industrial dislocation — 
factories, mines and docks ; and (iii) incendiarism — burning of 
records, buildings, petrol pumps etc,^* 

To deal with the shortage of arms Jayaprakash Narayan 
recommended the Karnatak pattern of violence to be adopted 
by the guerillas in all places. The Karnatak pattern of violence 
envisaged a type where targets were to be small, governmental 
and situated in the rural areas ; the easiest types of dislocation 
were to be practised ; guerillas had to work in their own areas, 
small groups bad to carry out surprise raids ; and non-killing 
and non-injury to human life was strictly enjoined.®^ 

Jayaprakash Narayan prepared these pamphlets, under 
the impression that India might soon witness another uprising, 
like the one that had taken place in August- September 1942, 

24. Ibid, 

25, Ibid. The targets of easy access ^ere mail runners, mail-buses, small 

post-otfices, post-boxes, village charivdies, village chowkies, dak- 
bungalows, small railway stations, telepnone and telegraph Wirts, 
rail-roadt, colkctions^ etc. Ibid. 



This proved a vain hope. As he himself wrote in his second 
letter To All Fighters of Freedom^ released on 1 September 
1943 : “In December last it appeared to me that it might be 
possible within a few months for another mass uprising to take 
place. That rising has not yet materialized, and it has to be 
admitted, does not appear to be immediately imminent.” He, 
however, did not lose heart : “it would be a mistake to deduce 
from this that the spirit of the people has been crushed or that 
there is no fight left in them. The people never hated British 
rule as they do to-day and were never more determined to be 
rid of it.” Jayaprakash Narayan further added : 

The masses cannot move till there is force in us to move 
them. They cannot respond, they cannot follow us till 
we are able by our activities, and the strength and 
efficiency of our organization to win their confidence. The 
masses did their duty once. It was we who were found 
wanting. They shall do their duty again provided we do 
ours. In August last the masses had before their eyes 
the concrete power of the Congress and the leadership of 
Mahatma Gandhi, Today if they are made to feel that 
they are left alone, that there is no organized force in 
the country, which remains undefeated and continues the 
struggle, they would naturally sink down into despair and 
resign themselves to their kismet. 

Jayaprakash Narayan, therefore, exhorted the fighters of 
freedom to build up their organization and continue the fight. 
He told them that they must strengthen their organization and 
carry ceaseless war unto the enemy. No suffering, no sacrifice 
should be counted too great. No controversy, no temptation, 
no false hope should deflect their course. All avenues of 
struggle were open to them. They must keep on fighting, 
whether for a year or ten years should make no difference 
to them. 

Jayaprakash Narayan also decried the controversy 
regarding the use of violent methods which had sprung up 
since the publication of the correspondence between Gandhi 
and Linlithgow. His formula was : “Every fighter for free- 
dom is free to choose his own method. Those who believe in 
similar methods should work together as a disciplined group. 
And the least that those who follow a different path should do is 



not to come in the way of one another and waste their energies 
in mutual recrimination.” 

With a view to keeping up the morale of the masses by 
giving a hope that a bigger action would take place in the 
foreseeable future, Jayaprakash Narayan suggested an interim 
plan, according to which the guerillas would resort to a mass 
propaganda drive (to maintain the link between the fighters 
and the people) to the maximum extent. This might create 
the impression that the movement had not ended. He offered 
organization, propaganda and overt resistance as the minimum 
programme for the present. As regards overt resistance, he 
suggested that an agitation could be started, centering on the 
problem of food crisis in the country. With a little tact, the 
anger and frustration of the hungry people could be turned 
against the Government. Under the guidance of the Azads 
the starving and needy people should be induced to seize and 
loot Governmem grain shops. “Here is a vital programme/’ 
Jayaprakash said, “which tackled with imagination and courage 
can convert the country into a seething cauldron in which the 
Empire can soon be boiled to death. 


The underground resistance movement made some dents 
in Bihar, U.P., Bengal, Delhi, Orissa and Assam. Jayaprakash 
Narayan selected Bihar as his chief operational base. The 
close proximity of Nepal enabled him to operate here from his 
headquarters in Nepal’s Terai region. He started a regular 
guerilla training school Gulali Sonar and Suraj Narain Singh 
also were connected with this enterprise. Their centre was 
located in the jungles, north of Jaleswar. They had in all 
probability built up a strong guerilla force. When later the 
Indian police, with the co-operation of Nepalese authorities, 

26. Jayaprakash Narayan, Towards Struggle (Bombay. 1946), pp. 35-37. 
Following this cue, the AlCC in its outline plan for 1943-44, said that 
it would give maximum importance to food problem : ‘*In the towns 
and cities the edge of the people’s hunger should be turned through 
propaganda and personal contact against the British Ooveromeo t 
which is responsible for starving the people.” 

Horae Political File No. 3/13/44. 


The quit inxma MQveMWWt 

searched these hide-outs, they found some interesting things. 
There were typewritten appeals by Jayaprakash Narayan to 
American “brothers”, a Hindi circular issued in the name of 
Aruna Asaf Ali, some instructional notes on use of e^losives 
to destroy communication lines, and two silver Gandhi rupee 
coins. There were apparent evidences of musketry practice in 
the neighbourhood and of consumption of about four maunds 
of rice daily by guerillas. Besides the common weapons, they 
had tommy guns and .455 Webley revolvers.^^ 

Under the leadership of Jayaprakash Narayan the network 
of the underground resistance movement spread out widely in 
Bihar. With the growth in the intensity of guerilla warfare, a 
number of dormant terrorist groups became active in north and 
central Bihar. Former terrorists like Suraj Nath Chaube, 
Parsuram Singh, Parath Brahmachari and Siaram Singh became 
the leaders of local guerilla-bdtids. The Bengal groups were 
also active in places like Jamshedpur. In the Santal Parganas, 
Sapha Hor’s group (red shirt followers of Lambodar Mukherjec, 
the Forward Bloc leader) were assisting the underground 
resisters. In northern Bihar, Jogendra Sukul was the leader of 
the local guerillas. This group indulged in many political 
dacoities to augment its funds. Many of its members were 
trained in Nepal. Another group of armed rebels was 
active in the Dumaria and Imamganj areas. This group had 
wide-spread ramifications. The guerillas were mostly con- 
centrated in the Districts of Bhagalpur, Monghyr and 
Santal Parganas.^® 

Besides these, the northern strip of the Hazaribagh district 
and eastern part of the Gaya district were also centres of 
underground activities.-® A training camp for the guerillas was 
also set up in the jungles of the Bank sub-division. It had 
wireless sets and a charging machine. Some army deserters 
top had joined the camp. They were imparting training in the 
use of weapons to the recruits. In Chotanagpur, the guerillas 

27. Home Political File No. 18/6/43, Fortnightly report, Bihar, June 

28. Bihar Police Administratipn Report. Terrorism 1943. Home Political 
File No. 3/19/44. 

29. Home Political File No. 18/3/43, Fortnightly report, Bihar, March, 



were inciting the aboriginals to participate in the movement.^® 
Swaraj Panchayats were formed at Sonbarsa in the Tirbut 
Division and at About 44 political prisoners 
escaped from the jails during the last part of Dcdember 1942 to 
join the guerilla bands. A “destructive party” was formed at 
Monghyr to go for action at short notice. This party had also 
seized large quantity of hand grenades from a military depot. 
The Bibar Government reported that raids were contemplated 
on armouries and magazines in order to acquire arms and 
explosives after which roads and railways would be wrecked on 
a date to coincide with either Japanese invasion or an attempt 
to recapture Burma. A party was formed to assassinate 
Government officers and plans were made to kidnap them.^* 

The guerillas in Muzaffarpur were trying to form a 
parallel Government there. The* leaders were Gobind Singh, 
Ram Bahadur Singh and Krishna Singh. The whole village of 
Dhanuar in Muzaffarpur was under the control of the guerillas. 
The underground resisters brought out their own paper Baghi 
(in Hindi) from the Gaya district.^^ 

In praise of the working of the guerillas, a Government 
official stationed at Sahibganj, reported thus®^ : 

The political organization around this district is such that 
the like of it has never been seen. They have a code of 
signals by whistle, tick-tacking similar to bookmakers tour 
at Epsom and at night signalling by light both flash light 
and oil. The rapidity of the movement and operation of 

30. Home Political File No 18/11/42, Fortnightly report, Bihar, Novem- 
ber 1942. 

31. Homo Political File Nos. 18/9/42, 18/10/42, 18/1 1/42. Fortnightly 
report. Bihar, September, October and November 1942. 

32. Home Political File No. 18/12/42, Fortnightly report, Bihar, 
December 1942. 

33. Home Political File Nos. 18/11/42, 18/12/42, Fortnightly reports, 
Bihar, November and December 1942. 

34 Home Political File Nos. 18/4/43, 18/6/43, Fortnightly reports, Bihar, 
April and June 1943. 

35. Meneze, a signal officer on the Howrah division in charge of Sahib- 
ganj— submitted this report. He said that the guerillas bad captured 
gaogmen’s tools, tools from engine sheds, signal stakes* from keymen. 
They used to hamper repair works by carrying away trollies, tools 
etc. Home Political File No. 3/31/42. 



them is incredible. I am nor an alarmist or a defeatist 
but the restoration of services both rail and telephonic 
will not be an easy matter due to the amount of materials 

As has been mentioned earlier, Nepal provided a base lor 
the guerillas from Bihar. Particularly the area between Raxual 
and Jaleswar, where there were parses into Nepal, provided 
them with a spiingboard. Without the co-operation of the 
Nepalese authorities, the Government of India could not carry 
out a combing operation in this area. But the Maharaja of 
Nepal was not in favour of carrying out a joint operation of 
troops to mop up Indian rebels from their hideouts. The 
Nepalese Government felt annoyed when the Government of 
India made a covert suggestion for the extension to Nepal of 
the application of Rules 35^ and 38 of the Defence of India 
Rules and Section 17 of the Indian Criminal Law Amendment 
Act of 1908. The Maharaja of Nepal rejected the proposal 
outright, saying that it represented “a tendency on the part of 
the Government of India to place Nepal in the same line with 
feudatories of India.** To assuage the feelings of the Maharaja 
the Government of India immedia»ely assured him that they 
were “determined to uphold the full and independent sovereign 
status of Nepal, and it causes them distress to find that the 
Maharaja should entertain any doubt on this score.’* However, 
the Nepalese Government agreed to co-operate with the Govern- 
ment of India only in the matter of implementation of Article 4 
of the Extradition treaty. As a result, only one man could be 
arrested out of 435 “wanted** men. The local Nepalese officials 
did not fully co-operate with the British Government. It 
seemed, Bara Hakims and other Nepalese border officials were 
in sympathy with the Indian insurgents. The Nepalese 
Government’s obvious lack of interest in this matter led to 
complete failure of the mopping up operations.^® 

36. Home Political File No/3. 39/42. The Police Sub-Inspcctor of the 
Bairagnia Police Station reported that, on 21 September 1942, the 
Hakim of Appellate court Gaur, Tarai Nepal, “called all the influen- 
tial persons of Bairagnia and other places who had fled to Gaur, 
Tarai Nepal and encouraged them not to be afraid in any way. All 
sorts of comforts will bo given to them. The Nepal Government has 
ordered them iofficers) to see that they should not get any kind of 



It was from a bamboo hut at Bakro Ka Tapu (island in 
the Kachar of the river Kosi) that Jayaprakash Narayan guided 
the central organization of the Azad Dasta. In front of the 
hut was a hillock which was utilized as a wireless station. 
Rammanohar Lohia, who had come there with Shyamnandan 
Singh, became the Director of the Radio and Publicity Depart- 
ment. The office of the Bihar Provincial Azad Dasta was also 
located at a nearby place. The first military training camp 
was started in Nepal with 35 people, Sardar Nityanand Singh 
being the chief instructor.^’ 

On 21 May 1943, the Nepalese police arrested Jaya- 
prakash Narayan, Rammanohar Lohia and three others. The 
arrested people were kept at Hanumannagar police outpost. On 
22 May 1943, a batch of about fifty guerillas came and attacked 
the police outpost. After an exchange of fire the prisoners were 
rescued. In the scuffle, one Nepa4i guard was killed and another 
was seriously injured The Government of India felt much 
disappointed “since the arrest of those five people would ap- 
parently knock the bottom out of such underground acrivities 
...and might lead to information which would enable us to 
assess responsibility for the Rebellion with some finality.*’*® 

Immediately after the Hanumannagar incident, Jayaprakash 
Narayan and other top leaders left Nepal and entered Bihar. 
They sent iheir men to military cantonment areas to tamper 
with the loyalties of Indian soldiers and procure dynamites 
from nearby coalfields to blow up bridges and dislocate com- 
munication lines. The police again failed to arrest Jayaprakash 
Narayan on 30 July 1943, when, along with Gulali Sonar, he 
came to Muzaffarpur to collect money from the local zamindars. 
According to an official report, Jayaprakash Narayan at that 
time had at his disposal a band of fifty young men, who were 

trouble there Order has also been received from Nepal to refund 
the amounts which were charged from them in carrying their grains 
and other things.** Datta, n. 18, p. 267. 

On 12 December 1942 the police staff of Sitamarhi along with a 
spy visited the Janakpur Mela. Although several “absconders** were 
present there, they could arrest only Ram Lakshman Gupta. Ibid., 

p. 268. 

37. lbid.,p. 274, 

38. Home Political File Nos 3/ >9/42,* 3/68/43. 



ready to sacrifice their lives to protect him. On 9 August 
1943, about J 50-250 guerillas attacked the police outpost in 
Sonbarsa Diara in the Bhagalpur district. In the gun duel, 
four rebels were killed and some more were drowned in the 
river. Four policemen suffered serious injuries.^® 

The Bihar police administration report stated : "‘There 
was a series of armed encounters between the police and 
elusive guerillas operating in jungle terrain favourable to the 
latter. A number of rebels were killed and quantity of arms 
and ammunition recovered. About 1,200 arrests were made.'’ 
The report stressed that there were “many uneasy alliances” 
between guerilla fighters and professional criminals, and only a 
small proportion of the loot found its way into the coffers of 
the former. In fact, “it was the political glamour that attracted 
to the terrorist ranks so many disgruntled or unemployed 
youths.” The report alleged^ that gruesome crimes and attro- 
cities were committed by the guerillas against informers and 
defectors. Few people, consequently, liked to bear witness 
against the underground resisters. 

Jayaprakash Narayan was at last arrested in the Punjab 
towards the end of September 1943 ; though for some time, 
the Congress Socialist party went on announcing that he was 
still at large. This upset seriously the plans of the under- 
ground resistance movement, and completely dislocated the 
Congress Socialist Party’s strategy. There was none who 
could replace Jayaprakash Narayan Already a cleavage had 
appeared among the underground resisters on the issue of 
violence. The rift now widened further. The pro-non-violence 
group was now eager to renounce violence by starting indivi- 
dual satyagraha, and by reviving khadi, spinning and 
organizing Gram Sangathan for settlement of village disputes.^® 
On 28 February 1944, at a secret meeting of the inner 
circle of the underground resisters in Darbhanga, it was decided 

39. Home Political File No. 18/8/43, Fortnightly report, Bihar, August 
1943 ; also File No. 3/68/43. 

40. Bihar Police Administration Report. Terrorism 1943. Home Political 
File No. 3/19/44. 

41. Home Political File No. 18/10/43, Foitnigbtly report, Bihar, October 

42. Home Political File Nos. 18/11/43, 18/5/44, Fortnightly reports, Bihar, 
November 1943, May 1S>44. 



to organize the Azad Sena with an active and reserve branch. 
The purpose was apparently to organize an effective force in 
each thana three times stronger than the local police force to 
ensure success in future attacks on police stations There was 
a plan for the creation of two dictatorships for North and 
South Bihar. The plan, however, did not materialize. 

Among the important guerilla leaders, Siaram Singh was 
first to switch over from violence to non-violence. Seeing this 
rift in the underground resistance camp, the police intensified 
their operations against the guerillas. The whole of North 
Bhagalpur was cordoned off by the police. Collective fines 
were imposed on the affected villages. This had the desired 
effect. Certain villages and people of certain castes rendered 
help to the police, and were in turn granted exemption from 
the fines. Another method the Government employed was the 
detention of relatives of the guerillas, especially those who used 
to offer them shelters.^'* 

These measures facilitated the arrest of the leaders of the 
guerillas, such as Shyamnandan Singh. Suraj Nath Chaube» 
Mahendra Gope, Suraj Narain Singh, Gulali Sonar and 
Bindubashini Singh. Birinchi Missir and Kare Tanti were shot 
dead by the police in North Bhagalpur and North Monghyr 
respectively.^® With the arrest of so many leaders, the guerilla 
activities naturally came to an end, Later, Aruna Asaf Ali, in 
February 1943, made an unsuccessful bid to revive the move- 
ment with the help of Badri Narain Sinha.^® 

The Congress Socialist party propaganda pamphlets went 
on advocating “revolutionary assaults” on the enemy for some 
time more. But the high tide of revolutionary fervour had 
receded too far back. 

43. Home Political File No. 18/3/44, Fortnightly report, Bihar, March 

44. Home Political File No. 18/6/44, Fortnightly report, Bihar, June 


45. Home Political File Nos. 18/3/44. 18/4/44, 18/9/44 and 18/11/44, 
Fortnightly reports, Bihar, March, April, September and Novem- 
ber 1944, 

46. Home Political File No. 18/2/45, Fortnightly report, Bihar, February 




Unlike Bihar, the insurgents in Bombay fought largely 
with bombs ar.d other modern weapons. The activists ^at first 
used crude bombs, which sometimes did not burst. But gradual- 
ly they perfected the technique, and the incidence of bomb- 
throwing increased Upto the middle of February 1943, the 
total number of bomb explosions was officially estimated as 
375, and m addition 243 bombs were discovered by the police 
before they could do any damage. Five Government servants 
were killed and eighty-two injured, while thirteen members of 
the public lost their lives, and one hundred and eight were seri- 
ously injured.^’ Bombs and hand-grenades were manufactured 
at many places. One of the places was believed to bz Block 
No. 43 on the top floor of Gautam Nivas, Charni Road. When 
police raided the place on 30 January 1943, they found five live 
round metal casting bombs and some more material. The 
resisters used to meet in a flat on the first floor rr Krishna 
Nivas, Walkeshwar Road. One Shrinivas Bhagawandas 
Marwari, the secretary of local Marwari Sammelan, was giving 
financial assistance to the underground activists. Dr. Vasant 
Avasare, Parshuram Pupala, Annaji Balkrishna Barve, 
Bapubdhai, Shankarlal and Shantilal were closely connected 
with the manufacture of bombs. 

The police discovered “a veritable arsenal’* in a Poona 
house owned by one Sahasrabudhe From three were recovered 
twenty-four “mills bombs,” five fuse mine contacts, j i\ revol- 
vers, several sticks of T.N.T.. 303 ammunition, phosphorus and 
a number of bottles of nitric and sulphuric acids, and a number 
of pamphlets on the use and manufacture of bombs. There 
was also a list containing the description of all the military 
ordnance depots situated in India. The Government had a 
suspicion that many Indian subordinate officials serving in the 
office of the Field Controller of Military Accounts, Poona, and 
in the ordnance factories and depots were co-operating with 
the underground resisters, by supplying high explosives."*® 

47. Home Political File No 35/3/42. 

48. Hon e Political File No. 3/8/43. 

49. Home Political File No. 18/2/43, Fortnightly report, Bombay, Feb- 
ruary 1943. In February 1944, the police seized one land mine (anti- 



Guerilla bands were most active in the Districts of 
Kolaba, Broach, Satara, Surat, Belgaum, Poona, Ahmedabad 
and Bombay. In Kolaba, one pleader named Kotwal led a 
properly armed and well-organised guerilla band which was 
mainly engaged in sabotaging the hydro-electric system. Kotwal 
received substantial financial assistance from Bombay, and paid 
fancy wages to labourers for carrying supplies to his “hideouts” 
in the jungle. On 31 December 1942, the police made a forced 
march of thirty-seven miles through the jungle to track down 
Kotwal and his associates. A gun battle ensued. The guerillas 
lost the battle and lost their leader too. The police seized 
a large number of guns, bombs and cartridges.*® 

In Ahmedabad, an Azad Government of the guerillas had 
been functioning. This government appointed one Jayanand 
as District Magistrate, who impokfed a war tax on the people. 
Upto 15 October 1942, about Rs. 7,000 was collected 

Satara made the most significant contribution to the 
underground resistance movement in the Bombay presidency. 
Most of the guerillas here were trained in the handling of arms 
and ammunition. The insurgents under the leadership of Nana 
Patil made raids on Taluka treasuries and police outposts. 
Nana Patil was the dictator of the whole region. Political 
dacoities were often undertaken. On 3 March 1945, for instance, 
they raided the local branch of the New Citizen Bank of India 
and took away Rs. 17,000.*^ They also attacked running trains, 
police outposts, post-offices and nearby villages. Many gueril- 
las died in encounters with the police. The people of Satara 
established their own “Patri Sarkar.” The village panchayats 
used to decide legal cases. In the southern part of the Satara 
district, about 75 percent of civil disputes were decided by these 

lank), two “mills bombs,” hand-grenades, eight crude bombs, three 
revolvers imd one automatic pistol and a large quantity of cordinate 
gelignite fuse caps, fuses, blasting powder, chemicals for preparing 
incendiary and anti-personal bombs in a icbel hide-out in Bombay. 
Home Political File No. 18/2/44, Fortnightly report, fiombay, 
February 1944. 

50. Home Political File No. 18/1/43, Fortnightly report, Booibay, 
January 1943. 

51. Home Political File No. 3/84/42. 

52. Home Political File No. 18/3/45, Fortnightly report, Bombay, March 



courts. The Government had to admit that the absconders had 
very skillfully set up an organization to which the villager was 
turning for the redress of his grievances. Documents seized 
during a raid on one of the villages (where a court *of the so- 
called parallel government was holding a session) showed that 
all the features and paraphernalia of a parallel government 
had been set up.®* 

The success of the rebels in Satara gave a lot of impetus 
to the guerillas elsewhere.®^ In the neighbouring areas also 
guerilla bands were raised up. In Kundal (Aundh state), the 
guerilla band was known as a “Dahshatwadi Dal,” which was 
formed out of Rashtra Seva Dal units. They used to carry 
out arbitration and victimization orders.®® 

The underground activists of Bombay had their own 
organ called (Re vG'lutionary). It was published in 

Marathi, and edited by Achyut Patvardhan and S.M. Joshi. 
Most of the leading Congress Socialists used to contribute 
articles to this paper.®® Later Ninth August in English was 
published from the same place, ft was also edited by Achyut 
Patvardhan. In March 1944, the police seized the press and 
arrested ten persons associated with it.®’ 

Some time in August 1943, an important meeting of the 
underground activists took place in Bombay, where it was 
decided to suspend overt civil disobedience activities for the 
time being, and to concentrate on organizing the masses for a 

53. Home Political File Nos. 18/3/45, 18/6/75, Fortnightly reports. Bombay 
March, June 1945. On 26 June 1945, the police raided a temple in 
Nerla village where a people’s court was functioning at that time. 
The police arrested twenty-seven persons, for assembling there. A 
register of summary trial proceedings was seized. The police also 
found some notices issued by the “Patri Sarkar.” Home Political 
File No. 18/7/45, Fortnightly report, Bombay, July 1945. 

54. Home Political File No. 18/5/45, Fortnightly report, Bombay, May 

55. Home Political File No. 18/6/45. Fortnightly report, Bothbay, June 

56. Home Political File No. 18/6/43, Fortnightly report, Bombay, June 


57. Home Political File No. 18/3/44, Fortnightly report, Bombay, March 




more successful fight later on.^® Meanwhile Gandhi’s release 
from jail and the release of some other Congressmen caused a 
rift among the rank and file of the underground workers and 
weakened the underground resistance movement. The Govern- 
ment had also tightened their grip over the guerilla-controlled 
areas. A full infantry Brigade was put into action for combing 
operations in the Belgaum-Dharwar area. Extra armed police 
had been acquired from the neighbouring provinces. The 
cream of the Intelligence Branch was working at high pressure.^® 
Beginning from early 1943, the Government did not take much 
time to put into prison underground leaders, of note, such as 
N.G. Gore (Bombay); Sriranga Kamath (Karnatak region) ; 
Y.B. Chavan, Vasant Bandu Paiil, Pravinchandra Chotalal and 
Bapu Kachare (Satara) ; Appamagauda, Anna Guruji and 
Bapu Sahcb Ragangauda (Belgaum) ; Ramlal Pardeshi (Nagpur) 
and Pandu Master (Karad Taluka). Only Rammanohar Lobia 
could elude the police till 21 May 1944. Two guerilla leaders, 
Bhimsingh Vachatbhai Parmar and Yesha Babu Ramoshi of 
Satara, lost their lives fighting against the police. 

These arrests caused a great setback to the underground 
movement in the Bombay region. Some of the guerilla leaders 
who survived did their utmost to revive the movement through 
the Rashtra Seva Dal units. Apprehending further trouble, 
the Bombay Government banned the Rashtra Seva Dal 
in September 1945,®® and ensured that the movement did 
not revive. 


In Bengal, Midnapur, a traditional stronghold of the 
Congress, emerged as the storm centre of rebellious activities. 
As an official reporter preferred to describe it, Midnapur had 
a long “history of determined lawlessness.” In the Contai and 
Tamluk sub-divisions practically the whole of countryside 

58. Home Political File No. 18/8/43, Fortnightly report, Bombay, August 

59. Horae Political File No. 18/4/43, Fortnightly report, Bombay, April 

60. Homo Politijcal File No, 18/9/45, Foctojgbtly report, Bomlniy, 
September 1945. 



was organized in support of an insurrection.®^ Disturbances 
started in this district rather late, on 29 September 1942. The 
rebels burnt down Sutanta, Patashpur and Khejfi police 
stations. In their clashes with the police, they showed “consi- 
derable care in planning, an effective warning system had been 
devised, elementary tactical principles were observed by 
encirclement and flanking movements clearly on prearranged 
signals.” The southern parts were extensively organized. 
Ihere were district headquarters functioning with courts, 
known as Gandhi Hajats. Police and informers were kidnapped 
and prosecuted. Leaflets were issued in the name of the 
Council of Action, Bengal Provincial Congress Committee.®^ 

Like Satara, Midnapore had also its own parallel Govern- 
ment called the “Tainralipta Jatiya Sarkar.” lis head, known 
as “Sarbadhinayaka” (Dictafor), was elected by the local 
Congress Committee He held the war portfolio. Other 
important portfolios were law and order, health, education, 
justice, agriculture and propaganda. This Government was 
first formed on 17 December 1942 with Satish Chandra 
Samanta as the first Sarbadhinayaka.®* On 26 November 1943, 
four Thana Jatiya Sarkars were formed, comprising Sutahata, 
Nandigram, Mahishadal and Tamluk. Each area had a 
Vidyut Bahini under the command of a General Officer 
Commanding and a Commandant. It also had intelligence 
and ambulance branches. According to the Bengal Govern- 
ment, “the forces of disorder were accompanied by doctors and 
nursing orderlies to attend the casualties ; and the intelligence 
system is clearly efficient, since movements contemplated by 
the police and troops are very early known and measures taken 
to forestall them.”®^ 

In Midnapore, the resisters used to sink their own ferry 
boats to prevent the movement of officials. The Congress 
Socialist party here was functioning in closer co operation with 
the Revolutionary Socialist party. The guerillas used to kidnap 

61. Home Political File No. 3/34/42. 

62. Home Political File Nos. 18/10/42 and 18/11/42, Fortnightly reports, 
Bengali October and November 1942. 

63. Ainrita Bazar Patrika, 20 December 1945. 

64^ Home Political File Nos. 18/10/42 and 18/11/42, Foitnightly reports, 
Bengal, October and November 1942, 



sons of rich families to demand ransom. There was a Garam 
Dal (violence party) to carry out attacks on Government 
buildings and installations.®^ The Bengal Provincial Congress 
Committee mentioned that the guerillas had destroyed thirty 
bridges, cut twenty-seven miles of telegraph wire, broken 194 
telegraph poles, blocked seventeen roads by cutting trees, burnt 
two police stations, two sub-registrar’s ol flees, thirteen post- 
offices, seventeen excise shops, and arrested thirteen Govern- 
ment officials. People’s arbitration courts seemed to have 
become quite popular among the masses. The parallel law 
courts tried 2,907 cases, of which, 1,681 were disposed of. 
Fines imposed by the court on 523 persons amounted to 
Rs. 33,937-15-0. This money was later spent on relief work. 
The Bengal Government admitted that thirteen officials were 
kidnapped by the rebels.®® > 

In September 1944, the Bengal Government declared the 
“Jatiya Sarkar” as an unlawful association under Section 16 of 
the Criminal Law Amendment Act. Three platoons of the 
Eastern Frontier Rifles were inducted to mop up the guerillas.®^ 
The police and the troops resorted to large-scale atrocities on 
civilians in this region. The Bengal Provincial Congress Com- 
mittee reported that in the Tamluk sub-division the police had 
burnt 124 and looted 1,044 houses. An old popular lady of 
sevent>-three years was shot dead. Planes were used to 
machinegun the rebels. The Government detained 5,076 
people without trial The Bengal Provincial Hindu Mahasabha 
in its enquiry report on Tamluk and Contai mentioned that 
9,044 women were arrested and 274 raped. 

The people of Midnapore also suffered during this time 
due to a severe cyclonic storm which caused widespread flood 
and damage. The Government did not allow any news 
regarding these events to be known to the outside world. 
Neither did it allow any non-official relief organization to 

65. Home Political File Nos. 18/3/43, 18/6/43,18/11/43 and 18/3/44. 
Fortnightly reports, Bengal, March, June, November 1943 and March 

66. Home Political File No. 3/22/45; Amrita Bazar Patrika, 20 
December 1945. 

67. Home Political File No. 18/9/44, Fortnightly report, Bengal, 
September 1944, 



Operate there. Of course, relief was officially provided, but 
only to the loyalists. The Hindu Mahasabha report alleged : 
‘•The District Magistrate submitted in writing a report to the 
Government that relief, whether organized by the Government 
or by a private agency, should be withheld for a month and 
thereby people taught a permanent lesson He also acted 
literally according to this policy.*'®® 

Official indifference towards relief forced Shyama Prasad 
Mookerjee, President of the All India Hindu Mahasabha, to 
quit the Bengal cabinet. The Bengal Government, however, 
dismissed his allegations as “highly exaggerated versions of 
minor incidents.” As regards delay in providing relief measures 
to the affected people, the note blamed Nature for causing “un- 
foreseen difficulties” for the Government.®® 

Natural calamity combined with official repression to 
suppress the movement. Following Gandhi’s release “the 
Jatiya Sarkar” was dissolved on 8 August 1944.’® 


The underground resistance movement was also active in 
U.P. and Delhi. In U.P., Banaras, the headquarters of the 
Congress Socialist party, became the centre for setting up 
underground cells all over the province. But this organiza- 
tional network did not expand according to expectations. The 
principal organizer of the resistance movement was Baba 
Raghav Das of Gorakhpur. He was assisted by Dr. Swami 
Nath and Chandra Sekhar Asthana, a professor of Kashi 
Vidyapith. Banaras in those days was often selected as the 
venue for the meetings of all India leaders of the underground 
resistance movement. In the middle of May 1943, an impor- 
tant meeting of the Congress Socialist party also took place 
there. Other active centres of the movement in U.P. were 
Ballia, Ghazipur, Azamgarh, Jaunpur, Sultanpur, Partabgarh, 
Gorakhpur, Cawnpore, Allahabad, Lucknow and Agra.’^ 

68. Home Political File No. 3/22/45. 

69. Ibid. 

70. Amrita Bazar Patrika, 20 December 1945 

71. Home Political File No. 



On 7 February 1943, some students of the Banaras Hindu 
Uaiversity, under the guidance of Chandra Sekbar Asthana, 
Jai Chand Vidyalankar, Chunilal Sharma and Priyaranjan 
Prasad Sinha, all of them ex-students of the University, set fire 
to the Indian Air Force hangar and the M.G.O. oflBce ; the 
former was partly burnt, the latter was completely gutted. There 
was also an unsuccessful attempt to set fire to the Banaras 
Hindu University Registrar’s oflBce. The activists also made 
concerted, but vain, attempts at breaking the Hardoi jail to 
secure the release of the Congress Socialist leaders.’^ 

The police arrested some important underground leaders, 
such as Ambika Singh (Jaunpur), Sambhunath Chaturvcdi, 
Deputy Superintendant of Police who had renounced govern- 
ment service. Dr. Kaushalya Naud Gairola of Banaras Hindu 
University, Kailashpati Mishr^, Keshav Deo Malaviya and 
Purnima Bannerjee, The last one was arrested in Bombay in 
June 1944.73 Soon thereafter, the underground resistance 
movement collapsed. 

After Bombay, Delhi proved to be the second biggest 
bomb manufacturing centre. Here the resisters had even 
named the bomb-making ingredients after the names of Congress 
leaders, such as, Subhas blasting jelly, Jawahar grenade, 
Gandhi blasting stick, etc.^^ The police seized a large amount 
of ammunition from two places in Karol Bagh and Bazar 
Sitaram. The stock consisted of 186 gelignite slicks, 183 dete- 
nators, 1,200 feet of fuse, 30 lbs. of gun powder, 46 empty cast 
iron containers designed for bombs, a large quantity of 
chemicals, and some documents. The police arrested one 
Madan Lai and Radhe Syam Sharma, an ex-professor of 
Banaras Hindu University, in this connection. But the latter 
was soon released owing to lack of evidence.’^ 

The underground resistance movement made little head- 
way in Assam and Orissa. In other provinces, there was 
absolutely no organization at all. 

72. Ibid. 

73. Home Political File Nos. 18/9/42, 18/2/44 and 18/6/44, Fortnightly 
reports, U.P., September 1942, February and June 19^. 

74. Home Political File No. 18/1/43, Fortnightly report, Delhi, January 

75. Homo Political File No. 3/6/43, 




At the beginning of the revolutionary period, the* Cong- 
ress Socialist Party was successful in building up a facade of 
unity and solidarity of all the underground activists. But the 
fabric was never a solid one. The presence of too many dis- 
cordant and heterogeneous elements produced cracks in the 
structure. The cracks did not appear immediately, because 
all the schools of thought whether believing in violence or non- 
violence, decided to work together in the beginning. 

It may be asked as to why the rightist elements within the 
Congress agreed to play the second fiddle to the Congress 
Socialists in the underground resistance movement, and why 
the AlCC allowed itself to be guided by the Central Directorate 
which was dominated by the Socialists. It seems Gandhi him- 
self had shown sympathy with Socialists during the pre-August 
days of 1942 and even earlier.'^® He certainly had not disfavour- 
ed the growing hostility of the Socialists towards the British 
regime. This attitude of Gandhi naturally lent credibility to the 
Socialists. Moreover, Gandhi’s declaration of 8 August 1942 

76. When the British authorities in India tried to defame Jay* prakash 
Narayanby publishing the letters which he was trying to smuggle out 
of the Deoil detention camp in October 1941, and in which he had 
asked his Socialist friends to prepare for underground action, Gandhi 
came out with a statement which, while expressing his disapproval 
of all violent activities, praised Jayaprakash Narayan. “Frankly**, 
Gandhi said, “all naticnalist forces . . are at war with the Govern- 
ment. And, according to the accepted canon of war, the method 
adopted by Jayaprakash Narayan is perfectly legitimate . . . ** Home 
Political File No. 43/96/41. Also D.G. Tendulkar, Mahatma 1940-45 
Vol. 6 (New Delhi, 1962), p. 12. 

Again on 15 July 1943, Gandhi wrote to the Additional Home 
Secretary, Government of India : “ , . , he differs from me on several 
fundamentals. But my differences, great as they are, do not blind me 
to his indomitable courage and his sacrifice of all that a man holds 
dear for the love of his country. I have read his manifesto which is 
given as an appendix to the indictment. (Congress Responsibility For 
the Disturbances 1942-43). Though 1 cannot subscribe to some of 
the views expressed therein, it breathes nothing but burning patriotism 
and his impatience of foreign domination. It is virtue of which any 
country would be proud.” Pyarelal (Comp.), Gandiji^s Correspondence 
with the Government 1942-44, (Ahmedabad, Navajivan Publishing 
House, 1945), edn. 2, p. 186. 



that it would be an “open rebellion” could easily be interpreted 
to mean a revolution. The political atmosphere in the country 
was rendered particularly conducive to such an interpretation by 
the sudden arrest of Gandhi and other Congress leaders , and 
even the rightist elements felt so bitter as to join the Congress 
Socialists without very many inhibitions. Finally, among the 
leaders who had escaped arrest, there was none in the right wing 
who possessed either the stature or the capacity to lead the move- 
ment. In these circumstances, the leadership passed smoothly in- 
to the hands of the Congress Socialist party, whose top leaders had 
escaped arrest and were determined to continue the struggle. 

The Central Directorate also took the care not to show its 
teeth all too soon, and retrained, for some time, trom showing 
its preference for violence. It succeeded in convincing the 
rightist elements that it was not in favour ol violence. The 
early pamphlets of the AICC*(which had in reality been pro- 
duced by the Central Directorate) bore the imprint ol this 
strategy. Whenever they had to advocate an extremist line, 
they skillfully used quotations from Gandhi to support their 
news. Their pamphlets, too were couched substantially in 
Gandhian phraseology. Tire Socialists also succeeded in wres- 
ting leadership from the right wing in many provinces. Thus 
carefully consolidating their own position at the centre and at 
the provincial level, they proceeded gradually to show an open 
inclination for violence. The dramatic emergence ol Jayaprakash 
Narayan, the general Secretary of the Congress Socialist party, 
further tilted the balance in lavour ot the leltist group. His 
participation in the movement emboldened the Central Direc- 
torate to launch the scheme of revolutionary guerdla warfare. 
It was at this stage that the orthodox group began to raise 
doubts about the Gandhian nature of the plans ol the AlCC. 

For the first tune the orthodox Gandhian group raised 
ideological objections to some underground activities ot the 

77 It was S K. Paul who observed in October 1944 : ‘'...99 per cent of 
' Congressmen who remained behind after the arrest of promirent 
leadeis did not know what exactly they were expected to do. This is 
th“ reason why they accepted, without critical examination, any 
euidance that came from anywhere and from any person whether 
authorised or competent to give it or not.” File No. P-7/1942 -46 
AlCC, Nehru Memorial Museum. 



Directorate at its meeting in Delhi on December 1942. The 
Congress Socialist party, realising that the political situation 
had changed and its own position had weakened, suggested an 
ingenious compromise. It agreed to follow two programmes 
simultaneously : one would include the old orthodox Congress 
items, and the other would go for “a new phase of sabotage” 
in the country.’® 

It was during the twenty-one day fast of Gandhi in 
February 1943, that the rightist leaders began to feel uncomfor- 
table in the company of the Socialists, and became apprehen- 
sive that they were doing disservice to Gandhian ideals. Sucheta 
Kripalani, with the help of a Government official, met Gandhi 
and told him of her activities since his arrest. Gandhi told 
her that he disapproved of the violent activities carried on in 
the name of Congress. After the termination of the fast, Sadiq 
All met Gandhi and apprised him of the existing situation. 
Gandhi said that he did not like to express “dissatisfaction or 
otherwise with what individuals were doing as he had told them 
they could act as free men, but as far as he himself was con- 
cerned, he disapproved of secret methods and activities involv- 
ing violence,” Convinced of the necessity to part company with 
his Socialist colleagues, Sadiq AH decided to engage himself in 
constructive work in U. P.’^ Unlike Sucheta Kripalani and 
Sadiq Ali, the hard-core Soctalist leaders, though troubled by 
Gandhi’s fast, were not prepared to give up their activities. On 
the contrary, Gandhi’s fast provided a leverage to them to 
mount their pressure on the masses to increase the intensity of 
the movement. In an appeal to the business community, they 
said in February 1943 

78. Home Political File No. 4/4/44. 

79. Home Political File No. 3/70/43. 

80. Home Political File No. 3/25/43. Appealing to the people to launch 
a revolutionary campaign, a Bombay Bulletin of 11 February 1943 
said : “Let our merchants treat these three weeks of his fast as a daily 
reminder that upon his life he has changed us to do our bumble best. 
Let the markets and bazars close down, let schools and colleges be 
emptied. Let the workers come out of their factories on the roads in 
eloquent veneration of our great leader's challenge." The Bulletin, 
however, asked the people not be swayed from the path of Ahimsa. 
Horae Political File No. 3/81/43. 



“It is acts alone that can speak .... Let your actions pro- 
claim that Indian trade and Industry, Indian Business 
and Banking, Indian insurance and Commerce all unite, 
to disassociate themselves from the rule of terror that is 
enthroned at Delhi. Let the whole people unite in one 
gigantic deadlock which will wipe away the shame and 
Ignominy that alien captors have heaved upon our un- 
fortunate land.” 

Stressing the importance of a pervasive and permanent 
boycott and non-co-operation movement against the British, the 
appeal exhorted a hundred thousand “Do or Die” men to 
paralyze British administration by non-violent assaults.®^ 
Railway staff were asked to damage the communication instru- 
ments ; Ekka and Tongawallas and cooks were asked to boy- 
cott police and Englishmen; shopkeepers were asked to observe 
hartals.^^ Ridiculing the efforts of the Non-Party Leaders’ 
Conference to obtain Gandhi’s immediate release, the Central 
Directorate characterised them as “another expensive exhibi- 
tion of their helplessness”, “a continuation of the discredited 
traditions of slavery’* and “prayerful inaction.” It was mean- 
ingless to knock their heads against the wall of Imperial greed 
and lust for power. “They [non-party leaders] dug deep in 
the soil, but got not a drop of the life-giving waiei of liberty 
and free thought.”** 

The differences between the two groups had come to the 
surface now. The Gandhian group soon decided to call a 
meeting of the Central Directorate in Bombay to fight out the 
issue. In the conclave the line-up was clear and distinct. 
The pro-violencc group comprised Jayaprakash Narayan, 
Rammanohar Lohia, Achyut Patvardhan and Aruna Asaf Ali ; 
the pro-non-violence group was represented by Sucheta 
Kripalani and Sadiq Ali. There was an animated discussion 
on the issue of continuance of violence. The upshot was that 
Jayaprakash Narayan agreed to suspend the violent movement 

81. Home Political File No. 3/26/43. 

82. Home Political File No. 18/2/43, Fortnightly report. Bengal, 
February 1943. 

83-s Home Political File No. 3/26/43. 



for a period of two to three months.®^ This cliinb down on the 
part of the Congress Socialists represented a sincere effort to 
soothe the feelings of the Gandhian group and to avoid an 
immediate showdown The leftists knew that any split -at that 
moment would adversely affect the prospect of the underground 
resistance movement. They decided to have a temporary truce, 
hoping to be able to convert the other group in the meanwhile. 

But the breach could not be healed. A desperate Achyut 
Patvardhan wrote to Jayaprakash Narayan : “Sucheta is 
turning a priest.”®^ A month later, the right wing leaders held 
a meeting at Banaras on 23 May 1943. The leaders present 
were Sucheta Kripalani, Baba Raghav Das and Dwarkanath 
Kachru ; only Aruna Asaf Ali represented the leftist group. This 
meeting discussed the possibility of reviving the constructive 
programme of the Congress in the existing circumstances.^® 

The growing difference between the Congress Socialists 
and the right wing leaders became more marked when both the 
sides went on to issue two separate programmes for the celebra- 
tion of the first anniversary of 9 August in 1943. The AlCC 
(the right wing group) issued its programme to all the Provincial 
Congress Committees. According to this programme there 
would be a Gandhi Yatra {Satyagraha march) on 9 August to 
the place of Gandhi’s detention, i.e., the Aga Khan’s Palace, 
Poona. The satyagrahis would be from all over India. Tn the 
district headquarters and other towns also, there would be 
Yatras to their respective jails to protest against the Govern- 
ment’s repressive policy. Besides, there would be general 
hartal on 9 August, students’ Aar/a/ for three days, collective 
spinning, hoisting of Congress flag and processions and meetings 
in all the places.®’ 

Tn sharp contrast, the Socialists wanted to observe 
9 August as the New Year’s Day of the Indian revolutionaries. 
They also termed it as the August Rebellion Day. Their 
programme included mass demonstrations and strikes, attacks on 
government officials, throwing of bombs at police stations and 
other acts of violence. They, however, affirmed that violence 

84. Home Political File No. 4/4/44. 

85- Ibid. 

86. Home Political File No. 3/70/43. 

87. Home Political File No. 3/68/43. 


13 ^ 

would be used ‘‘only in retaliation for violence used by the 
police and the military against the satyagrahis.’*®® 

The proposed Gandhi Tatra of the right-wing Congress 
was not a success. About 128 volunteers could reach Poona, 
and they were immediately arrested. There were partial hartals 
in most of the towns. Schools and colleges were on strike for 
some days. A few bomb explosions took place in Bombay 
on August. 

Among the provincial Congress Committees, Karnatak 
was the first to raise objections to the issuing of literature by 
the underground activists in the name of the provincial Congress 
Committee. The provincial leaders (the Gandhian group) were 
even thinking of issuing a disclaimer if any worker oi workers 
advocated any action in the name of the provincial committee. 
To avoid a clash, the underground resisters agreed to stop 
issuing instructions for the time bting. The Karnatak committee 
took the decision that sabotage even in stray cases must cease. 
It was further suggested that the people who indulged in 
sabotage should be openly condemned and should receive no 
support or aid from any Congress worker or sympathiser.^^ 

Karnatak’s example strengthened the hands of the 
Gandhian group to demand a break from the Central 
Directorate. Since the Bombay meeting, the rift had been 
rapidly growing. Finally in September 1943, the Gandhian 
group decided to break away, and Sucheta Kripalani resigned 
from the Central Directorate.^^ 

The formation of a new group called the “All India 
Satyagraha Council” sealed the split in the underground 
resistance movement. The organizational set up of the new 
body was modelled on the same line as that of the Central 
Directorate, [t was established mainly by the efforts of Sucheta 
Kripalani. The other important leaders of the organization 
were Ananda Prasad Chaudhary of Bengal, R.R. Diwakar of 
Bombay, G. Ramachandran of Madras, Baldeo Narain Verma 
of Bihar and R.S. Dhotre of the All India Spinners’ Association. 

88. Ibid. 

89. Home Political File No. 35/5/43. 

90. Home Political File No. 3/85/43. 

91. Home Political File No. 4/4/44. 


Their activities were largely coofiaed to the Provin ces of Bengal, 
Bihar, Bombay and Madras.®^ 

The reasons for the formation of the new organization 
were explained by Ananda Prasad Chaudhary in a pamphlet. 
All India Satyagraha Council — What we stand for. He stated 
that Congressmen, who had the unalterable conviction that 
satyagraha was the basis of their struggle, should do nothing 
that would weaken the concept of satyagraha and its discipline. 
The object of the organization was to evolve, by mutual 
consultation and planning, programmes of struggle which would 
prepare the Indian masses ultimately for an open nation-wide 
non-violent revolution that would paralyse the whole machinery 
of the Government and replace it by a people’s government.®^ 
Having the same end in view, the All India Satyagraha 
Council and the Central Directorate were divided by the 
adoption of different means. While the former stood for open, 
non-violent defiance of the authorities, the latter wanted to 
organize secret sabotage and guerilla warfare. The Council 
wanted to follow the orthodox Gandhian means, the Directorate 
found violence necessary. 

The Council, in the beginning, was eager to establish its 
militancy. It spread the idea that the masses should organize 
‘‘open successive raids” on the usurper Government without 
inflicting any injury or violence to anyone. This programme 
immediately became controversial. It put the rank and file in 
a quandary. They were divided on the issue of a future 
programme. One group was in favour of defying the authorities 
on all the issues. The other group was in favour of rendering 
co-operation to the Government particularly on the food front. 
Again, one group was in favour of launching individual 
satyagraha^ and another was in favour of complete cessation of 
agitational activities.®^ Because of these internal conflicts, 
the All India Satyagraha Council could not grow into a 
powerful organization. 

The formation of the Satyagraha Council spread confusion 
among the rank and file underground workers also, for they 
did not know whom to follow. On 9 May 1944, Nagindas 

92. Ibid. 

93. Ibid. 

94. Home Political File No. 3/85/43. 



T. Master, president of Bombay Provincial Congress Committee, 
issued a strongly worded private warning to Congress workers 
to sever all contact with Congress Socialists, and particularly 
stressed the need to avoid distribution of any literature without 
his prior approval. He was considerably disturbed to discover 
that the Congress machinery was supplying funds for the use of 
underground workers. He was at that time engaged in an 
enquiry regarding funds handed over to such leaders as Achyut 
Patvardhan and Rammanohar Lohia.®® The All India Satya- 
graha Council, in its circular of 13 May 1944, stated that '‘all 
aggressive programmes should stand suspended till such time as 
Gandhi made his mind clear on the present position.” Further 
modification of their stand became apparent in their programme 
for observance of 9 August 1944. This time only flag hoisting, 
prabhat pheries, spinning demonstrations, and meetings for 
recitation of the August resolution were included.®® On the 
other hand, the Central Directorate's programme included such 
items as the observance of a general strike, violation of ban 
orders, non-selling of food grains to the Government, boycotting 
of prize-bonds, and fomenting of discontent in the army in 
order to win over their sympathy for the nationlist cause.®’ 

Although the All India Satyagraha Council was supposed- 
ly following Gandhian policy, in actuality it was also function- 
ing like an underground organization. In any case, arrest of 
leaders like Sucheta Kripalani, R.R. Diwakar, Ananda Prasad 
Chaudhury and Baba Raghav Das in 1944 served a mortal 
blow to the organization.®® It had enjoyed only a brief spell of 
life and even during that period it could hardly implement any 
items of its programme. In fact, its very existence caused great 
harm to the underground resistance movement. 

Though Gandhi did not openly admonish the Congress 
Socialist party or its votaries for their role in the recent drama, 
he privately expressed his displeasure after his release from jail 
in May 194 k This attitude of Gandhi pained many under- 
ground resisters. They might have been expecting a few words 

95. Home Political File No 18/5/44, Fortnightly report, Bombay, May 

96. Home Political File No. 3/28/44. 

97. Home Political File No. 3/2/44. 

98. Home Political File No. 4/4/44. 



of praise from Gandhi, though not a full endorsement of their 
methods. But Gandhi had put them in the dock. They felt 
sullen and sad. But they were not apologetic. They were 
convinced of the rightness of their cause. When, 9 June 
1944, Gandhi advised Aruna Asaf Ali, to surrender to the police, 
she replied : “We wish to abide by your orders ; but it is 
revolting to our self respect, pride and patriotism to submit to 
the humiliation of surrendering to the British police/’ However, 
she agreed to suspend all violent activities in accordance with 
Gandhi’s wishes. 

Gandhi’s closed door admonitions created a psychological 
depression and a mood of defeatism among the participants of 
the underground movement. The underground leaders had 
also to face much mud-slinging, character- maligning and 
personal vilification from lesser persons. The resultant strain 
was pathetic. With poign:^nt pathos did Aruna Asaf Ali 
convey to Gandhi the sad disillusionment of these people^”*’ : 

Like driliwood, caught in stagnant waters, rootless, 
banished from all spiritual moorings, life becomes worth- 
less and meaningless — that is how one feels these days. 
There was a time when we of the August Revolt thought 
and felt like gods — we know now that we were perhaps 
no better than impetuous romantics. The realists were 
right. They did not lose their head and were unaffected 
by your call to throw out the foreigner. They were wise 
and are therefore, reaping the fruits of wisdom. They 
have had the best of all the worlds... We know ours is 
the voice of lost souls that championed a lost cause. 
Ghosts from a past that is now thoroughly in disrepute, 
we are apt to become a nuisance .. 

Jayaprakash Narayan, the main architect of the under- 
ground resistance, more aggressively bitter, noted in his jail 
diary on 5 August 1944i®^ : 

99. Aruna Asaf Ali’s letter to Mahatma Gandhi, Nehru Papers, Nehru 
Memorial Museum Their correspondence continued from 4 June 
1944 to 8 August 1945. Aruna Asaf All was most of the time in 
Bombay ; yet the police could not detect and arrest her. 

100. Ibid. 

101. Jayaprakash Narayan, In the Lahore Fort (Patna, 1947), pp. 81-2. 



A revolution is disowned because it failed... 1 feel bitter 
because I find we have been badly let down— not 1 
personally, because I openly preached violence and was 
therefore, prepared in the event of failure for severe 
censure and excommunication. But thousands, rather 
lakhs, of Indian patriots, have been let down... Those 
thousands of unknown soldiers of independence who 
participated in the stirring events of 1942 did not stop to 
consider whether the upheaval that caught them in its 
surge and flung them onward was technically, in accor- 
dance with the niceties of political formulae, a Congress 
movement or not. It was sufficient for them to know 
that their leader had declared an ‘‘open rebellion.” 

The situation somewhat changed following the release of 
the members of the Congress Wording Committee on 15 June 
1945 102 Unlike Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Vallabhbhai 
Patel came out openly in support of the Quit India movement. 
On 30 August 194.\ Nehru openly confessed : “1 am prepared 
to take all responsibility for the happenings of 1942 because 1 
am responsible for creating these conditions in the country. 
Again, on 15 September 1945, he described the 1942 struggle as 
the people’s spontaneous movement and raised the masses for 
doing things on their own initiative.’®* These speeches must 
have soothed the thousands of underground workers who were 
feeling let down and disowned by the leadership. 

The Congress Working Committee, however, left no 
doubt about its disapproval of the methods inculcated by the 
Socialists. Its resolution on the Quit India movement, 
adopted in Calcutta in December 1945, stated that after the 
arrest of principal Congressmen the unguided masses look the 
reins in their own hands and acted almost spontaneously. 
Though heroic, many acts were committed which could not be 
considered non-violent. The Working Committee, therefore, 
reaffirmed that the policy of non-violence adopted by the 
Congress in 1920 continued unabated, and that such non- 

102. N N. Mitra, ed.. The Indian Annual Register (Calcutta, n.d.), vol. 1, 
1945, p. 72. 

103. /c//V/,vol.2. 1945.P. 12. 

104. Home Polilical File No. 18/9/45, Fortnightly repoit, Bombay, 
September 1945. 



violence did not include burning of public property, cutting of 
telegraph wires, derailing trains and intimidation. 

This seemingly unconscionable act of th^ Congress 
naturally hurt the Socialists. Two of them, Achyut Patvardhan 
and Aruna Asaf AH, felt constrained to protest in an open 
letter to Congress president^®® : 

We submit, the Working Committee have done less than 
justice to their own good name for undaunted partisan- 
ship of freedom’s cause by dismissing the momentous 
events of the past three years as a series of impulsive and 
heroic, albeit undirected aberrations. We remain uncon- 
vinced of our error although we may recognise the 
average element of mistakes which persists in all organi- 
zational executive efforts. 

They also questioned “the properiety of this summary 
judgement upon the complex events of the past three years.” 
This resolution, they emphasised, was bound to be interpreted 
as a reflection on their alleged lapse from the path of duty in 
the struggle for freedom. They demanded the vindication not 
only of their self-respect but also of the respect that their point 
of view deserved. 

The Indian National Congress remained adamant. Un- 
officially, however, most of the Congress leaders came out in 
praise of the underground movement. And before long, the 
Socialist leaders emerged from prison as heroes in the eyes of 
the general public, the Congress Working Committee’s resolu- 
tion notwithstanding. 

Working against heavy odds and with limited resources, 
the Socialists had not been able to achieve much by way of 
results. They had even fai ed to establish a strong or lasting 
organization. But by their acts of courage and defiance they 
had kept alive the Quit India movement much longer than it 
would have otherwise lasted. They had not strictly followed 
the old techniques of struggle ; instead they had organized a 
cadre of armed fighters, and planned a chain of armed struggles 
in various parts of the country. Even the limited success they 

105. Mitra, n. 102, vol. 2, 1945, p. 100. 

106. Amrita Bazar Patrika^ 18 January 1946. 

107. Ibf'i 

IU 2 di> 191 Ar>iL.C MUVEMEN'r 


had achieved was sigDificant. For it gave the British a foretaste 
of things to come if the Indian problem was not settled to the 
satisfaction of the Indian people. This was the most significant 
contribution the underground resistance movement made to the 
country’s march towards freedom. 



gESIDES the mass upsurge and the underground resistance 
^movement, there was a third dimension of the Quit India 
movement ; the fight carried on by Gandhi himself from the 
Aga Khan’s Palace where he was imprisoned. He carried on a 
valiant struggle for the vindication of truth, staking even his 
life in the true spirit of a satyagrahi. 

Ironically, the starting point of Gandhi’s struggle was his 
contention that it was not he but the Government’s hasty action 
in arresting the Congress leaders which had precipitated the 
crisis. “The Government of India,” Gandhi wrote to the 
Viceroy within less than a week of his confinement at the Aga 
Khan’s Palace, “should have waited at least till the time that I 
inaugurated mass action.” Instead, he was not even permitted 
to write the letter which he had publicly stated he would write 
to the Viceroy. This was intended to be an appeal for an 
impartial examination of the Congress case. Obviously the 
Government was “afraid that the extreme caution and gradual- 
ness with which the Congress was moving towards direct action, 
might make world opinion veer round to the Congress as it had 
already begun doing, and expose the hollowness of grounds for 
the Government rejection of the Congress demand.”^ 

1. M.K. Gandhi lo Linlithgow, 14 August 1942, Pyarelal (Comp.), 
Gandhi's Correspondence with the Government 1942-44 (Ahmedabad, 
Navajivan Publishing House, 1945), edn. 2, pp. 15-20. Also 
Correspondence with Mr. Gandhi. August 1942— April 1944 (New 
Delhi, Government of India, 1944), pp. 2-3 



Gandhi went on to demolish every point in the Govern- 
ment of India’s resolution of 8 August 1942 in which it had 
given a garbled version of the Congress position in order to 
justify the Government’s action. He denied having contem- 
plated violence at any stage. The purpose of the pro- 
posed movement was “to evoke in the people the measure 
of sacrifice suflScient to control attention. Gandhi 
characterized as “a gross libel” against “the oldest 
national organization of India'" the Government’s contention 
that Congress was not the mouthpiece of the country. As for 
the official contention that the Government could not have 
taken any risk in regard to its war effort, the Congress, too, 
was interested in the protection of the freedom of China 
and Russia. But they proceeded on different premises : “The 
Government of India think that freedom of India is not neces- 
sary for winning the cause, i* think exactly the opposite.” 
Claiming to be a friend of the British people, Gandhi pleaded 
for a reconsideration of the Government’s policy^ : 

If notwithstanding the common cause, the Governmenl’s 
answer to the Congress demand is hasty repression, they 
will not wonder if I draw the inference that it was not so 
much the Allied cause that weighed with the British 
Government, as the unexpressed determination to cling to 
the possession of India as an indispensable part of 
imperial policy. This determination led lo the rejection 
of the Congress demand and precipitated repression. 

The present mutual slaughter on a scale never before 
known to history is suffocating enough. But the slaughter 
of truth accompanying the butchery and enforced by the 
falsity of which the resolution is reeking adds strength to 
the Congress position. 

Writing to Gandhi on 22 August, the Viceroy, curtly 
refused to accept either Gandhi’s criticisms of the 
Government’s action or his suggestion for a reconsideration 
of official policy Gandhi was undeterrred. He reiterated the 
charge in his communication of 23 September, and emphasised 
that Congress continued to be wedded to non-violence. “The 
wholesale arrests of the Congress leaders,” he wrote, “seemed 

2. Ibid, 


The quit India movememt 

to have made the public wild with rage to the point of losing 
self-control. I feel that the Government, not the Congress, arc 
responsible for the destruction that has taken place.” He now 
put in concrete terms his suggestion regarding recoiisideralion 
by the Government of its “whole policy” : “The only right 
course for the Government seems to me to be to release the 
Congress leaders, to withdraw all repressive measures and 
explore ways and means of conciliation.”^ 

The Government was unrepentant. It did not even 
acknowledge Gandhi’s letter, and reinvigorated its propaganda 
that the Congress was responsible for the disturbances. Gandhi 
thought over the matter for more than three months, and came 
to the conclusion that under the circumstance.*: he had to under- 
take a fast in order to vindicate his honesty. The decision was 
conveyed to the Viceroy through “a very personal letter” on 
the last day of the year 1942. • Stating that he had given himself 
six months and that his patience was drawing to a close, Gandhi 
wrote : ‘The law of satyagraha as I know it prescribes a 
remedy in such moments of trial. In a sentence it is, ‘crucify 
the flesh by fasting.’ That same law forbids its use except as a 
last resort.” He had to be sure that the last resort had become 
indispensable. So he implored the Viceroy : “Convince me of 
my error or errors, and I shall make ample amends. You can 
send for me or send some one who knows your mind and can 
carry conviction. There are many other ways if you have 
the will.”^ 

But the Viceroy was unimpressed by Gandhi’s sincerity. He 
thought that Gandhi, uneasy and uncertain about his position, 
was carrying on this correspondence with a view to bringing the 
spotlight on himself and on the Congress. Gandhi’s object, 
according to the Viceroy was to regain the initiative and 
to ascertain how far the Government was going to take a tough 
line. Linlithgow decided to keep the ball in Gandhi’s court. 
“I must on the one hand,” he told the Secretary of State, 
“avoid the appearance of closing the door and precipitating a 

3. M.K. Gandhi to Linlithgc w, 23 September 1942, /W., pp. 21-2 ;aJso 
Correspondence with Mr, Gandhi^ n. 1, pp. 3-4. 

4. M.K. Gandhi to Linlithgow, New YcJ»r’s Eve, ir42, Candhi*s Corres* 
pondence^ n, 1, pp. 23-5, 



crisis for which we would plausibly be made responsible, and 
on the other the exposing of surface, or to giving Gandhi the 
excuse of starting a desultory correspondence 

But the War Cabinet was opposed to such a correspon- 
dence with Gandhi. Since, however, the Viceroy was determined 
to follow a contrary course, the Cabinet had to agree. 
Linlithgow’s was a tactical move to defeat Gandhi in his own 
game. Nevertheless, Linlithgow was not confident enough to 
carry on the correspondence without any advice or guidance. 
He apologised to Amery for deluging him with telegrams and 
representations about Gandhi’s correspondence, but added that 
it was a delicate and difficult job.® 

The Government of India permitted Gandhi to read 
newspapers, expecting that Gandi would come out with a 
categorical denunciation of the ac^tivites of the rebels in August- 
September 1942. In his letter to Gandhi dated 13 January 
1943, the Viceroy expressed great disappointment that Gandhi 
had not thought it fit to condemn this rash of violence, more so 
because “a heavy responsibility” for it rested on him. 
Linlithgow added that if Gandhi was prepared to retrace his 
steps and disassociate himself from the earlier policy he had 
only to let the Viceory know and the latter would “at once 
consider the matter further,”’ 

This evasive letter, the Viceroy confessed to the Secretary 
of State, deliberately missed Gandhi’s main points in order “to 
make him show his hand a little further,” without giving “him 
much room to move.’’ The important thing was “to avoid 
parleying with him or giving him an excuse for that hair- 
splitting correspondence at which he is so expert.”® 

Unaware of the game the Viceroy was playing, Gandhi 
wrote back, on 19 January 1943, asking to be put in touch with 
the members of the Congress Working Committee before be 
could make any positive suggestions for ending the impasse, 

5. Linlithgow to Amcry, 4 January 1943, Nicholas Mansergh (Ed.), 
The Transfer of Power, 1942-7, Vol. 3, 21 September 1942-*^12 June 
J943 (London, l97n. pp. 449-50. 

6. Linlithgow to Amery, 7 February 1943. ibid., p. 609. 

7. Linlilhgow to M.K. Gandhi, 13 January 1943, Gandhrs Correspon- 
dence, n, 1. pp. 25-6. 

3. Linlithgow to Amery, 6 January 1943, Mansergh^ n. 5, p. 461 , 



Gandhi, however, stuck to the charge that it was the Govern- 
ment which was responsible for all that had happened in 
August-September 1942.® He elaborated it more eloquently 
in his letter of 29 January 1943 to the Viceroy^® : * 

I see the fact of the murderers as clearly, I hope, as you 
do. My answer is that the Government goaded the people 
to the point of madness. They started leonine violence 
in the shape of the arrests already referred to. That 
violence is not any the less so, because it is organized on 
a scale so gigantic that it displaces the Mosaic law of 
tooth for tooth by that of ten thousand for one — not to 
mention the corollary of the Mosaic law, i.e., of non- 
resistance as enuniciated by Jesus Christ. I cannot 
interpret in any other manner the repressive measures of 
the all-powerful Government of India. 

But the Viceroy knew his mind, and there was no chance 
for Gandhi to make a dent in the carefully planned official 
policy by sheer eloquence and demonstration of righteousness. 
It was natural, therefore, that his request for being permitted to 
communicate with the CWC should be rejected. Gandhi, 
consequently, felt obliged to undertake a twenty-one day last ; 
there no longer was an alternative to “the last resort.” The 
fast was to commence on 9 February 1943. Since his intention 
was not to die, “but to survive the ordeal, if God so wills,” 
Gandhi decided to take water with juices of citrus fruits duiing 
the fast. Two days before the commencement of the ordeal, 
Gandhi made a stirring confession of faith to the British 
pro-consuF^ : 

You have left me no loophole for escaping the ordeal I 
have set before for myself, I begin it on 9th instant with 
the clearest possible conscience. Despite your description 
of it as “a form of political blackmail,” it is on my part 
meant to be an appeal to the Highest Tribunal for justice 
which I have failed to secure from you. If I do not 

9. M.K. Gandhi to Linlithgow, 19 January 1943, Gandhi's Correspond 
dence, n, 1, pp. 27-9. 

10. M.K. Gandhi to Linlithgow, 29 January 1943, ibid., pp. 31-3 ; also, 
Correspondence with Mr. Gandhi, n. 1 , pp. S-9, 

11. M.K. Gandhi to Linlithgow, 7 February 1943, Gandhijds Correspond 
deuce, n. 1, pp. 38-41. 

Gandhi’s fast and after 


survive the ordeal I shall go to the Judgment seat with the 
fullest faith in my innocence. Posterity will judge between 
you as representative of an all-powerful Government and 
me as a humble man who had tried to serve his country 
and humanity through it. 


Gandhi’s decision to go on a fast did not come as a 
surprise to the Government. Official quarters had been 
speculating, even prior to August 1942, about such an 
eventuality in case Gandhi was arrested. Indeed the various 
pros and cons in that connection had already been discussed. 
Gandhi’s deportation to Aden had been almost finalized by the 
War Cabinet. But Linlithgow had opposed it on the ground 
that “Were Gandhi following on a fast to die overseas, efl'ect 
would be even worse than if that regrettable consequence were 
to take place while he was a fiee man in India.”^" It had, more- 
over, been decided at that time that in the event ol Gandhi’s 
death there would be no half-mast flags, though oflices might 
be closed on that day.^^ Such a prospect, however, had 
frightened the Governors of Bihar, Punjab, Bombay and C.P. 
They were apprehensive that Gandhi’s death during incarcera- 
tion would leave the Government friendless in India. They 
wanted the old man to be released, should he go on a fast.^^ 

The Government of India decided to accept the operative 
part of this advice and to follow “the cal and mouse policy.” 
Gandhi would be released for the duration of the fast and 
brought back to detention after its completion. The India 
Office, on the other hand, was opposed even to a temporary 
release. Amery did not mind if Gandhi died during the fast ; 
all that had to be done was to keep back the news of his death 
for the time being. The War Cabinet endorsed this policy on 
6 August 1942.^® Amery, however, permitted the Viceroy to 

12. Linlithgow 10 Amery, 26 July 1942, Mansergh, n. 5, Vol. 2, ‘Qw// 
India,' 30 April — 21 September 1942 (London), p. 462. 

13. Linlithgow to Amery, 28 July 1942, ibid , p. 489. 

14. Ibid., p. 637. 

15. Amery to Linlithgow, 3 August 1942, ibid., p. 550. 

16. War Cabinet’s Minutes on Gandhi’s fast, 6 August 1942, ibid.^p, 588. 



send Gandhi to the Sevagram Ashram immediately after the 
commencement of the fast ; but only after the place had been 
completely sequestered.^’ But the Viceroy saw no sense in 
taking advantage of this concession.^® 

By 31 August 1942, the War Cabinet felt convinced that 
“the limited response to the revolutionary campaign of the 
Congress party had provided a practical demonstration that 
Congress did not represent the masses of Indian people.” It 
decided to ignore the Congress and Gandhi totally. There 
was, moreover, the risk that Gandhi's release might be 
interpreted by the Congress circles as a victory in his struggle 
against the Government of India. 

On 30 September 1942, the Viceroy for the first time told 
the provincial Governors that Gandhi might decide to fast for 
the achievement of his “ina,dmissible demands.” They were 
also informed that the Government would provide all medical 
facilities to him. Devadas Gandhi (Gandhi’s youngest son) 
would be asked to take charge of all arrangements inside the 
Aga Khan’s Palace. Gandhi would be permitted to see a 
reasonable number of personal friends, provided they agreed to 
execute a bond for maintaining secrecy about their talks with 
Gandhi.^® The Bombay Governor, Roger Lumley, felt 
that “the reaction to Gandhi’s death, from a fast, under 
detention, is going to be so formidable that we ought not to 
allow it to happen except under extreme circumstances.” He 
did not think the Government’s arrangements were workable. 
It was but an illusion to imagine that the Government would 
succeed in depriving Gandhi of publicity consequent on his fast 
which was found to make tbe front page news in the nationalist 
press. Lumley doubted if Devadas Gandhi would be willing 
to play the Government’s game. Should Gandhi die, more 
troops would be required to meet the situaiion, and that would 
seriously affect the whole war effort.*^ 

17. Amcry to Linlithgow, 10 August 1942, ibid,, p. 632. 

18'. Linlithgow to Amery, 16 August 1942, ibid,, p. 719. 

19. The minutes of the War Cabinet, 31 August 1942, ibid., p. 855. 

20. Linlithgow to all provincial Governors, 30 September 1942, Maosergb, 
n. 5, Vol. 3, pp. 64-5. 

21. R. Lumley (Bombay) to Linlithgow, 22 October 1942. ibid., pp, 144«>8. 

GANDHI^S Fast and AFTEft 


Receiving such an adverse note from a senior Governor 
like Roger Lumley, Linlithgow decided to reopen the case of 
Gandhi’s fast wiih the War Cabinet. For a brief while he 
toyed again with the idea of sending Gandhi to Aden or Africa, 
if he were to fast at a moment of real military difficulty.^^ 
seemed Linlithgow was now inclined to accept the view of some 
of his advisers that Gandhi’s release at the point of danger to 
his life would not be regarded by the public as “a victory over 
the Government.” “Indeed,” he argued, “detention after 
reaching that stage would be punitive rather than preventive in 
character.”-® The War Cabinet, however, did not agree to 
release Gandhi in such a way. If anything, Gandhi could be 
released on compassionate grounds (e.g., his age, health and 
the fact that he had already been detained for nearly six months), 
not because he was facing ^eath due to fast.®^. Amery 
emphasised that to release Gandhi because of his threatened 
fast would be a clear tactical victory for the latter.-^ 

Linlithgow was in a dilemma. Personally, he would have 
preferred a tough line. But he knew that it would not be 
favoured by many of the provincial Governors as well as the 
majority of the Executive Councillors, particularly the Hindu 
members and the Home Member Reginald Maxwell himself. 
At the moment the opposition was so strong that the Viceroy 
decided not to sail against the wind. He appealed to the War 
Cabinet to accept his judgment in this respect.®® Amery saw 
the Viceroy’s dilemma and advocated his case before the Cabinet : 
“The handling of the situation seems to me essentially a matter 
in which the responsibility is that of the man on the spot and 
in which we must be guided by his judgment.”®’ On 12 January 
1943, the War Cibinet decided not to interfere with the 
considered judgement of the Viceroy —on whom lay the 
immediate responsibility for handling the situation.®® 

22. Linlithgow to R. Lumley (Bombay), 31 October 1942, ibid., p. 173; 
Lumley (Bombay) to Linlithgow, 4 November 1942, ibid , p. 204. 

23. Linlithgow to Amery, 22 December 1942, ibid , p. 405. 

24. Minutes of (he War Cabinet. 7 January 1943. ibid., p. 469. 

25. Amery to Linlithgow, 8 January 1943, ibid , p. 471. 

26. Linlithgow to Amery. 1 1 January 1943, ibid., p. 482. 

27. Memofaiidumi by the Secretary of State for India to War Cabinet, U 
January 1943, ibid , p. 485. 

28. Minutes of the War Cabinet, 12 January 1943, ibid., pp. 491-2. 



There were three clear alternatives for the Government of 
India : (i) to allow Gandhi to fast unto death in confinement ; 

(ii) to release him when there was clear danger of death ; or 

(iii) to release him only for the period of the fast, 'rtiere was 
no unanimous opinion in the Viceroy’s Executive Council and 
the provincial Governors were equally divided. M. HaJlett, 
Governor of U.P., was definitely against Gandhi’s release. A 
considerable section believed that Gandhi’s release would create 
an adverse efifect on the Services and loyalists. On the contrary, 
the Viceroy felt that full weight had to be given to the “violence 
of popular emotion ; possible misrepresentation in Left wing 
press at home and in the United States ; and finally reactions 
inside my own Council. The Bombay Governor reiterated 
that Gandhi should be released within a day or two of the 
commencement of the fast on tjhe ground of danger to his life. 
To allow Gandhi to die in detention, he said, “would be very 
bad tactics and would permanently solidify opinion against us.” 
Disagreeing with other Governors, he felt that Gandhi’s release 
would not have an efifect on Services and loyalists, and far from 
being treated as a victory over the Government, it would be 
received as a generous act.^<^ 

Like the Governors, the members of the Executive Council 
were also divided on this issue. The Commander-in-Chief 
alone was prepared to snpport a tough line against Gandhi. 
Linlithgow was now prepared to see Gandhi’s death in confine- 
ment ; that would remove an insuperable obstacle to India’s 
constitutional progress. Finally the Executive Council adopted 
the line suggested by Feroze Khan Noon : 

... that Gandhi should best be dealt with and deflated by 
intimation on evening before fast was due to begin that 
(a) Government could have nothing to do with this form 
of political blackmail for which they had the utmost 
abhorrence ; (b) that they could be no parties to his 
applying coercion by means of fast ; (c) that he would 
therefore be released, on starting a fast, for the period of 

29. Linlithgow to all provincial Governors, 2 February 1943, ibid., p. 574 ; 
Linlithgow to Lumley (Bombay), 2 February 1943, ibid,, p. 572 ; 
Linlithgow to Amery, 2 February 1942, ibid., 570-1 . 

30. Linlithgow to Amery, 3 February 1943, ibid., p. 577, 

31. Linlithgow to Amery, 8 February 1943, ibid.,p, 639. 

Gandhi’s fast and afteH 


the fast, viz., 21 days (or less) on the understanding 
(d) that on its completion he would return to detention. 
No restriction would be imposed on Gandhi during this period, 
but he would not be allowed to have any discussion with the 
Government. He would be just like a man “on ticket of leave.” 
Under the compulsion of carrying the Council with him, 
Linlithgow accepted this suggestion. He argued that “while 
this solution may be revolutionary it was best calculated to 
throw Gandhi out of his stride and secure us desired results.”^- 
The Bombay Governor, roo, accepted this proposal enthusiasti- 
cally, for “Gandhi dead will be a greater menace than Gandhi 
at large.” If it could be implemented, he believed, the proposal 
would reduce Gandhi’s fast to a farce. 

That was not to be. Gandhi was unlikely to oblige the 
Government by agreeing to pl^y its game. Nor did London 
feel happy about this shift in policy. The War Cabinet was 
“gravely disturbed.” It discerned in the draft declaration an 
impression of weakness which amounted to a surrender to 
Gandhi. Linlithgow was asked by Amery to override the 
decision of his Council. Viewing the problem in the larger 
imperial perspective, Churchill stressed the urgency of 
disavowing the policy recommended by the Council. He wrote 
to the Viceroy^® : 

T earnestly hope you will weigh very carefully the over- 
whelming opinion of the War Cabinet and other Ministers 
concerned before consenting to a step which is contrary to 
your own better judgment and that of the Commander-in- 
Chief.. and which 1 fear would bring our whole 
government both in India and here at home into ridicule 
and thus could the magnificent work which you have done 
in these seven anxious years. 1 ask this as a friend and 
also because 1 am convinced that such an episode would 
be a definite injury to our war policy all over the world 
which is now moving forward victoriously after so many 

32. Linlithgow to provincial Governors, 4 February 1943, ibid., pp. 583-4. 

33. Linlithgow to Amery, 5 February 1943. ibid., pp. 586-7. 

34 Minutes of the War Cabinet, 7 February 1943, ibid., p. 612 ; Amery 
to Linlithgow, 8 February 1943, ibid., pp. 617-8. 

35. Churchill to Linlithgow, 8 February 1943, ibid., p. 619. 



perils have been surmounted by British resolution. For 
larger interests I bear the chief responsibility. 

Even the resolution of the War Cabinet so forcefully 
conveyed by the Prime Minister could not persuade tfie Viceroy 
to overrule the Council. He told London that Gandhi’s 
release would be merely a brief interruption of bis confinement. 
Public reaction would thus be mitigated. Churchill felt that 
the ‘hour of triumph everywhere in the world was not the time 
to crawl before a miserable little old man who had always 
been our enemy.” But he decided against pressing beyond a 
point and submitted.^’ Amery also promised full support 
to the Viceroy.*® 

The Government of India now felt free to offer to release 
Gandhi for the duration of his fast.®® But Gandhi refused to 
be released “under false pretepces.”^® 

Immediately after Gandhi’s refusal, the Viceroy called an 
emergency meeting of the Executive Council, at midnight on 
9 February 1943, to take a final decision on Gandhi. It failed 
to come to any decision in spite of long deliberations. Members 
like Homi Mody, N R. Sarkar, M.S. Aney, Jogendra Singh and 
Sultan Ahmed seemed determined to resign in case the 
Government decided to let Gandhi die in confinement How- 
ever, the majority of the members reached the consensus that 
in no case should the Government of India be “blackmailed” 
by Gandhi. In a press communique on 10 February 1943, 

36. Linliihgow to Amcroy ,8 February 1943, ibidy^ pp. 620-1. 

37. Amery to Linliihgow, 8 February 1943, ibid,, p. 632. 

38. Amery wrote : “I shall support you all out. even if it means my 
breaking with the Goverment. I confess I get very fed up at times 
with a Cabinet which has no mind of its own and whose members are 
ail terrified of saying anything which would draw Winston’s dis- 
pleasure upon their heads... Nothing has convinced me more than 
the Cabinet meetings of the last three years of the fundamental 
incapacity of a British Cabinet to try and govern India.” Amery to 
Linlithgow, 8 February 1943, ibid., pp. 632-6. 

39. R. Tottenham’s (Additional Home Secretary, Government of India) 
letter to M.K. Gandhi, 7 February 1943, Gandhiji's Correspondence, 
n. 1, pp. 44*5 ; also Correspondence with Mr. Gandhi, n. 1, pp. 12-3. 

40. M.K. Gandhi to R. Tottenham, 8 February 1943, GandhijCs 
Correspondence, n. 1, pp. 49-50 ; also Correspondence with Mr, Gandhi 
n. 1, p. 13. 

41. Linlithgow to Amery, 9 February 1943, Mansergh, n, 5, Vol. 3, 

6andHI’s fast and AFTEk 


the Government declared that it would neither be deflected 
from its policy nor accept the responsibility for the conse- 
quences of the fast for Gandhi’s health. Thus, notwith- 
standing serious internal differences, Linlithgow finally 
resolved to carry out his own policy of letting Gandhi 
die in confinement. 


Unlike sections of the Indian officialdom, the Indian 
people were stunned by the nsws of Gandhi’s fast. An un- 
precedented emotional wave swept over the country. Hundreds 
of political prisoners immediately undertook “sympathetic 
fasts” which extended over periods varying from three to 
twenty-one days ; and the jai^ authorities had to administer 

artificial feeding. 

Industrial and urban centres all over the country witnessed 
hartals for a duration of one to three days. In Bombay and 
Ahmedabad, all exchange markets stopped functioning till 24 
February 1943. The fast had a disturbing effect on the 
industrial labour, particularly at Ahmedabad from where 
about 10,000 labourers migrated.^^ In Delhi, a retired police 
Inspector of the Punjab went on a sympathetic fast, and lost 
his pension. Seventh March 1943, the day when Gandhi 
completed his fast, was observed as a day of thanksgiving.'^^ But 
that is to anticipate events. 

As the fast proceeded, there developed a popular demand 
for saving “th^ precious life of the greatest saint of the age.” 
It was argued that no risk was involved in releasing Gandhi ; 
for if the Government were prepared, as they must be, to meet 
the risk of disturbances in the event of his death, they should 

42. Press communique of Government of India, 10 February 1943, 
Gandhiji's Correspondence^ n, 1, pp. 51-5. 

43 Ko n ' P Fih Njs 18/2/43, Fortnightly reports, C.P., Bengal, 

U.P., Delhi, Bombay, February 1943, National Archives, New 

h 4. Home Political File No. 18/2/43, Fortnightly report, Bombay, 
February 1943. 

45 HomiPo itical FileN) 18/2/43, Fortnightly report, Delhi, February 



be able more easily to quell any disturbance following his 
temporary liberation. About the public reaction the Bombay 
Government stated : “The sight of an ascetic of 73 lying on 
his death-bed in prison as a result of an ordeal which he had 
imposed on himself in a fight with an overwhelmingly powerful 
political opponent evoked feelings of pity which admitted of 
no reasoning.’' It further added that Gandhi was seen more 
clearly in the public mind as a balancing factor between various 
forces that were pulling apart ; for instance, between capitalism 
and communism, or terrorism and constitutional agitation His 
death would leave these contending forces free, and signalise 
even worse disorders than those for which he himself had 
been responsible.^’ 

Barring the Muslim League, all the political parties inclu- 
ding the Hindu Mahasabha an^ the Communist party demanded 
Gandhi's immediate release. The Muslim League was afraid 
lest Gandhi's unconditional release should improve the image 
of the Congress. Jinnah declared that if the Government con- 
ceded Gandhi’s demand under coercion, it would be tanta- 
mount to the sacrifice of the vital and paramount interests of 
Muslim India/® The Hindu Mahasabha’s demand for Gandhi’s 
immediate release was based on humanitarian considerations ; 
as such the Working Committee of the party made it clear 
that it could not accept “fasting as a political weapon used with 
a view to bring about constitutional changes and political 
revolution irrespective of their inherent merits or demerits.”^® 
The Communist Party of India also demanded Gandhi’s release. 
Harry Pollitt, on behalf of the Communist Party of Great 
Britain, through a telegraphic message to the Viceroy, urged 
the release of Gandhi and other Congress leaders and the 
opening of negotiations with them to end the political deadlock. 
In another message to the Communist Party ol India he asked 

46. Home Political File No. 18/2/43, Fortnightly report, Bihar, February 

47. Home Political File No. 18/2/43, Fortnightly report, Bombay, 
February 1943, 

48. r/ie .S/flrt?AA/7a// (New Delhi), 16 February 1943. Also Home Political 
Fhe No. 19/5/43. 

49. Ibid. 

Gandhi’s fast and AFTfiR 


it to work for Gandhi’s release and the establishment of a 
National Government.®^^ 

M.N. Roy, the leader of the Radical Democratic party, 
said that Gandhi’s hunger-strike was ‘'part of a well-laid plan.’' 
Its object was to help the Congress to “come out of its heavy 
defeat with the flying colours of a fraudulent victory.” Roy 
held the opinion that the policy of appeasement had nearly 
ruined the country. “The olive branch,” he believed, “having 
failed to elicit the desired response the Mahatma fell back on 
his non-violent pistol, which for once does not seem to have 
terrified the Government into a submission. 

Some higher ranking Indian officials were feeling uneasy 
that their careers would be in jeopardy in case the Government 
followed “a policy of appeasement” towards the Congress. 

Gandhi’s fast produced its reverberations within the four 
walls of ihe central Indian legislature also. The matter was 
raised in the Council of State (the Upper House) and the 
Central Assembly (the Lov^er House) on 15 February 1943 in 
the form of adjournment motions. Irrespective of their party 
affiliation, members showed concern for Gandhi’s health. 
Barring a few Government spokesmen and Muslim League 
members, all demanded Gandhi’s immediate and unconditional 
release. The Government, they pleaded, should rise above 
legal sophistry and considerations of prestige in order to prevent 
the crisis that would be produced if Gandhi’s fast proved fatal. 
If emergency demanded, the Government should go in sack 
cloth and ashes to save this precious life. A member warned 
that “the consequences of anything which happens to Mahatma 
Gandhi will be terrible, terrible beyond words. The 
Government, on the contrary, maintained that his unconditional 
release would again plunge the whole country into trouble ; 

50. Devadas Gandhi (Comp ), India Unreconciled (New Delhi, 1943), 
p. 214. 

51. Sunday Observer (Madras), 28 February 1943 ; also ibid. 

52. Home Political File No. 18/2/43, Fortnightly report, U.P., February 

53. See P.N. Sapru’s speech, 15 February 1943, India, Council of States 
Debates, vol. 1, 1943, official report, session 1943, pp. 35-7. See also 
“motion for adjournment” discussion in the Central Assembly moved 
by Lakshmi Kanta Maura, India. The Legislation Assembly rebates, 
vol. 1, 1943, official report, session 1943, cols 248-65. 



for he might resume his revolutionary programme of action 
with a view to capturing power. 

The Government of India was, indeed, determined not to 
be deflected from its chosen path. Linlithgow •^reassured 
Churchill : “I am not surprised but our flank march gave you 
some uneasiness. Such manoeurves are apt to look more 
alarming from a distance. But we are fronting him (Gandhi) 
now, and in pretty good shape.”^^ Among the provincial 
Governors, only Roger Lumley, the Bombay Governor, persisted 
in believing that Gandhi’s death in detention would cause 
irreparable damage to British-Indian relations. Sharing the 
belief of senior European I.C.S. and police officials of his 
province, be believed that Gandhi’s release would be a lesser 
evil than the long-term reactions which would follow his death 
in detention. He again warned : Here, Gandhi is a religion 
to very large numbers of people, and ordinary standards ot logic 
cannot be applied, where he is concerned, without grave risk.”®’ 
Tremors shook even the Viceroy’s Executive Council. 
From the outside most of the Indian Councillors had felt 
nervous at the prospect of Gandhi undertaking a fast ; and as 
early as 1 September 1942, Linlithgow informed Amer>^® ; 

... the sensitiveness of some of my Hindu colleagues may 
be gauged from the fact that when I discussed the business 
of a fast the other day in Council, and made it clear that 

54 See Mahomed Usman’s speech, 15 February 1943. India, Cowwc/7 of 
State Debates, vol. I, 1943, official report, session 1943, pp. 41-3. 
Speaking in the Legislative Assembly, Reginald Maxwell, the Heme 
Member, sarcastically expressed his understanding of the problem : 
“It seems to me that Mr. Gandhi’s demand is rather like asking the 
United Nations to appoint HUler to adjudge the responsibility for the 
present war. It is not usual in this country to put the accused person 
on the Bench to judge his own case.” He further said : “but by 
declaring civil war, a method that repudiates the method of dis- 
cussion, he [Gandhi] forfeits that right so long as he remains an open 
rebel... He cannot take part in public life under the protection of the 
law that he denies. He cannot be a citizen, and yet not a subject.” 
India, The Legislative Assembly Debates, vol. 1-2, official report, 
session 1943, cols 260-2. 

55. Linlithgow to Churchil, 10 February 1943, Mansergh, n. 5, vol, 3, 
p. 650. 

56. Lumley to Linlithgow, 16 February 1943, ibid, 

57. Lumley to Linlithgow, 4 March 1943, ibid , p. 755. 

5$. Linlithgow to Amery, 1 September 1942, ibid.,vol 2, p. S70, 



I coDtemplated the old man dying if he wanted to, one of 
them burst into tears at the table. We will have a good 
deal of trouble, I dare say, when the time comes, but we 
must stick to it. 

After adopting a strong line against Gandhi, Linlithgow 
anticipated a spate of resignations by his Indian Councillors 
when Gandhi lay critically ill. He also suspected that the Hindu 
Councillors were under pressure from G.D. Birla, Purshottam- 
das Thakurdas and other industrialists to resign their positions.*^® 
But whatever the consequences, Linlithgow was determined not 
to flinch. He was willing to face any crisis : whether it was 
caused by Gandhi’s death or by resignations of bis Councillors. 
He told the recalcitrant Councillors that if they wanted to go, 
they should go at once. This was not a desperate outburst. 
For he also played on their other fears by telling them that 
their resignations would cause# irreparable damage to the 
constitutional progress of India, and this might enable Jinnah 
to bring more Muslims into the Council.®® In reality, though, 
Linlithgow had decided to bring men from the Services to fill 
up these positions.®^ The Hindu members especially apprehended 
that if Gandhi died in confinement, people would label them as 
criminals and executioners. 

Immediately after the debate in the Central Assembly and 
on the eighth day of Gandhi’s fast, three Exeentive Councillors 
— Homi Mody, N.R, Sarkar and M.S. Aney— resigned. In 
a joint statement, they said : “Certain differences arose on 
what we regarded as a fundamental issue (the issue of the 
action to be taken on Mahatma Gandhi’s fast) and we felt we 
could no longer retain our office's.”®^ For the first time, three 

59. Linlithgow to Amery, 11 February 1943, ibid., vol. 3. p. 651. 

“I would certainly not anticipate united support and might very well 
have a majority against me. Resignation of Hindus on such an 
issue would have most unfortunate efifect and I doubt certain of them 
being willing to shelter behind fact that responsibility was mine. They 
will probably be most difficult to handle...” Linlithgow to Amery, 
11 January 1943, ibid., p. 484. 

60. Linlithgow to Amery, II February 1943 and 12 February 1942, ibid,, 
pp. 654, 657. 

61. Linlithgow to Amery, 16 February 1943, ibid., p. 676. 

62. Gandhi, n. 50, p. 159. 



Indian Councillors had come out openly to protest againt the 
arbitrary policy of the Government. Their resignation and 
exit from the Council did not produce any perceptible change 
in the official policy. 

After the failure of these moves, C Rajagopalachari, 
K.M. Munshi and G L. Mehta initiated a meeting of eminent 
leaders in New Delhi on 19 February 1943. Presiding over the 
meeting, Tej Bahadur Sapru condemned the Government for 
ruling the country like a policeman. He made an impassioned 
appeal : “We make on this occasion an appeal to the civilized 
conscience of Great Britain and of the United Nations, and we 
do say that if it is intended that this country should settle down 
to constructive work, then it is absolutely necessary that 
Mahatma Gandhi should be released. The meeting unani- 
mously passed a resolution which demanded that in the interest 
of the future of India and 'of international goodwill Mahatma 
Gandhi should be released immediately and unconditionally. 
It viewed with the gravest concern the catstrophe that would 
arise if the Government failed to take timely action. 

Replying to the communication of the Non-Party Leaders’ 
Conference, containing this resolution, the Viceroy’s private 
Secretary, J,G. Laithwaite, wrote on 20 February 1943 : “No 
new factor has emerged. ..responsibility in connection with his 
fast rests solely with Mr. Gandhi with whom, and not with 
Government, the decision to bring it to an end must rest.’*®^ 
After this rebuff, the non-party leaders sent cables to Winston 
Churchill, Arthur Greenwood, leader of the opposition in the 
House of Commors, and Percy Harris, leader of the Liberal 
party, on 21 February 1943, demandirg Gandhi’s immediate 
release. The cable, signed by twenty-nine eminent Indians 
headed by Tej Bahadur Sapru, referred to the Viceroy’s 
uncompromising attitude, and affirmed that if the Mahatma’s 
life was spared, promotion of peace and goodwill would be 
facilitated as surely as his death would intensify public embitter- 
ment. It further pointed out that charges brought by the 
Government against the Mahatma did not rest upon an 

63. /6/t/.,p. 166, 

64. MR. Jayakar moved the resolution, ibid ^ p. 167 ; also Mansergh, 
n. 5, vol. 3, pp. 705-6. 

65. Gandhi, n. 50, p. 182, 

Gandhi’s fasf and AFTER 


examination by any impartial tribunal or independent body, 
of men.®® 

To this Winston Churchill replied on 22 February 1943®’ ; 
... H.M.G. endorse the determination of the Government 
of India not to be deflected from their duty towards the 
peoples of India and of the United Nations by 
Mr. Gandhi’s attempt to secure his unconditional release 
by fasting. 

The first duty of the Government of India and of 
H.M.G. is to defend the soil of India from the invasion by 
which it is still menaced, and to enable India to play 
her part in the general cause of the United Nations. There 
can be no justification for discriminating between 
Mr. Gandhi and other Congress leaders. The responsibility 
therefore rests entirely with'Mr. Gandhi himself. 

Churchill was echoed by Amery in the House of Commons.®* 


A section of the press in Great Britain, unlike oflScial 
British opinion, demanded Gandhi’s immediate release. The 
Manchester Guardian wrote that in the event of Gandhi’s death 
Indo British relations would suffer a great setback ; for Gandhi 
was not like other leaders, he was India itself. Official policy 
might mean “victory for logic but not for statesmanship.’’®* 
The New Statesman And Nation was certain that if the “saintly 
rebel” died, the cold, irreconcilable sense of alienation among 
Indians against the British would grow, and prove more 
disastrous than any hypothetical loss of prestige. Gandhi’s 
arrest and detention were assuredly irrational and unreasonable. 

66. Mansergh, n. 5, vol. 3, pp, 711-2, 

67. Amery to Linlithgow. 23 February 1943, ibid., p. 720. 

68. Amery told the House of Commons on 25 February 1943 : 

“There can be no justification for the release of men who deliberately 
planned to paralyse India's defence at a most critical moment, and 
who have shown no sign of abandoning their criminal purpose, nor is 
thery any reason in this respect for discrimination between Mr. 
Gandhi and other Congress leaders.*' Gandhi, n. 51, p. 191. 

69. Manchester Guardian, 21 wad 7S¥t\>nmy\9A^, 



*'It is not sentiment, but a sober, utilitarian calculation that calls 
for his liberation.”’® 

Many persons in India also looked towards the United 
States for sympathy at that moment of crisis. William Phillips, 
President Roosevelt’s Personal Representative in India, came 
to hold the spot light for some time. His importance suddenly 
shot up because of a genuine belief among Indians of all classes 
that American intervention might induce the British to yield. 
All the nationalist leaders pleaded with the American diplomat 
to do something at least to save the life of the Mahatma.’^ 
Common people, too, from far off places urged him to use his 
“good oflSce’*. In an interview, C Rajagopalachari cautioned 
William Phillips “that the United States should take a longer 
range view of world developments and realize the dangers of an 
anti-white complex becoming rentrenched in the minds of Asian 
peoples.” Gandhi’s death, he stated, would bring in its wake 
“bitter anti-British and anti white sentiments.”’® 

The high expectations were, of course, not fulfilled. 
Without instructions from Washington Phillips was initially 
reluctant to do anything that might jeopardize his position with 
the Viceroy.’® But he also felt that in order to keep untarnished 
the American image of a champion of liberalism and demo- 
cracy, his Government should do something. Seeking guide- 
lines, he asked the Secretary of State, Cordell Hull, on 
16 February 1943, whether the President would permit him 
to approach the Viceroy and express the American people’s 

70. New Statesman And Nation (London), 20 and 27 February 

71. Joginder Singh, Homy Mody (Members of the Viceroy's Executive 
Council). K. Srinivasan (Editor, The Hindu), G.V>, Birla (industrialist) 
and many oiher Indian leaders visited and urged upon William 
Phillips to intervene; MS. Venkataramani and B.K. Shrivasiava, 
“The President and the Mahatma, America’s Response to Gandhi’s 
Fast February-March 1943,” International Review of Social History 
(Amsterdam), pt. 2, vol. 13, 1968, p. 151. 

72. /Mi/., pp. 160-1. 

73. Personal Representative ot the President in India (William Phillips) 
to the Secretary of State (Cordell Hull), 12 February 1943, 
Relations of the United States 1943 (Washington, 1964), voL 4, pp. 

GAlffittl’s FACT Am AFnm 


deep concern over the political crisis.’"* The Secretary of State 
did not approve of it ; instead he asked Phillips to go to 
Washington for further consultations at the end of April or the 
beginning of May.’® Meanwhile, with Gandhi’s health entering 
into the danger zone, public pressure on Phillips was mounting. 
He realized the deep agony of the masses and also the rising 
anti-British feeling among the elite.’® 

When Phillips made some covert efforts to see Gandhi, 
Linlithgow clearly told him that in no circumstances would the 
Government agree to his seeing Gandhi under detention.” While 
Linlithgow kept Phillips informed of all developments relating 
to Gandhi’s fast, he felt deeply annoyed when Phillips handed 
him a message from Cordell Hull emphasising the urgency of 
avoiding Gandhi’s death in detention. The Viceroy found it 
improper on the part of the Unit^id States to interfere in the 
internal affairs of the British Government at that critical 
moment. He asked London to tell the State Department in 
Washington that “we are not prepared to agree to intervention 
in handling situation already exceedingly diflScuIt and delicate 
and bound to be aggravated by the very slightest suggestion of 
interference, however well-intentioned.”’* He told Phillips that 
as a war Viceroy whatever he was doing was for the furtherance 
of the Allied cause. Gandhi’s rehabilitation at the expense 
of the Government at this stage would have disastrous effects. 
If Gandhi emerged triumphant, the Government’s position 
would become insecure. Linlithgow further affirmed that 
Gandhi’s death would not be a serious loss to the country. 

74. Personal Representative of the President in India (William Phillips) 
to the Secretary of Stale (Cordell Hull), 16 February 1943, ibid,, p. 194, 

75. Secretary of State \ Cordell Hull) to Personal Representative of tht 
President in India (William Phillips), 16 February 1943, itid, 

76. The day on which Gandhi’s condition became very grave (21 February 
1943), Phillips was invited to a dinner hosted by J.P. Srivaitava, an 
Indian Executive Councillor. There Phillips found that about fifty 
guests and the Councillor’s wife and two daughters were boycotting 
the function, “in view of their concern over the Mahatma’s life and 
their intense feeling against the Government.*’ Venkatar&mani and 
Srivasrava, n. 71, p 16S. 

77. Liiiliihgow to Amery, ^ February 1943, Mansergh, n, 5, VcL 3. 
pp. 640-1. 

78. Linlithgow to Amery, 19 February 1943, ibid., pp. 6S8A 



Rather, “the prospect of a settlement would be greatly enhanced 
by the disappearance of Gandhi, who had for years torpedoed 
every attempt at a settlement.”’^ ^ 

In view of the Viceroy’s stubborn attitude, Phillips in- 
formed Washington that only the King, by showing a 
magnanimous gesture, could save the situation by releasing 
Gandhi unconditionally,®® It proved to be a futile diplomatic 
exercise. The U.S. Secretary of State could only tell the 
British Ambassador, Lord Halifax, (20 February 1943) that the 
President would not like to see Gandhi’s death in prison. He, 
of course, assured the British Ambassador that Phillips 
would not say anything which might “accentuate the already 
high tension that exists and aggravate the difiQculties now 
confronting the British*' At the same time, to assuage 
Indian nationalist sentimeots/^the Secretary of State suggested 
to Phillips on the same day (20 February 1943): “I believe you 
might appropriately say that any phases of the Indian situation 
which require discussion will be dealt with by the ranking 
oflBcials of the American and British Governments.”®^ This 
statement of Phillips later created a small bubble of hope in the 
ocean of despair. But soon it melted away. Seeing the 
intransigence and irreconcilable attitude of the British, Phillips 
told his President on 23 February 1943 that the Viceroy, 
adamant as he was, had refused to listen to any appeals. 
“Perhaps he is a ‘Chip off the old block' that Americans knew 
something about in 1772.”®® 

79. /MJ., p. 690. 

cSO. Personal Representative of the President in India (WiJIiam Phillips) to 
the Secretary of State (Cordell Hull), 19 February 1943, foreign 
Reiations of the United States 1943, n. 73, p. 198. 

. 81. The Secretary of State (Cordell Hull) to the Personal Representative 
of the President in India, 20 February 1943, thid.^ p, 199. “The 
President however was impressed by the undesirable consequences on 
public opinion in the United States and elsewhere if Gandhi died, and 
wondered whether less barm would not be done if Gandhi was'release- 
ed before he died.... They clearly feel that from point of view of 
agitation outside India, release of Gandhi when his situation becomes 
critical would avoid obvious dangers.** Amery to Linithgow, 21 Feb- 
ruary 1943, Mansergh, n. 5, vol. 3, pp. 709-10. 

82. ’PersQaal Representative of the President in India (William Phillips) 
to the President, 23 February 1943, Foreign Relations o/ the United 
States 1943, n, 73, p. 202. 



In the event of Gandhi’s death, Washington was consider- 
ing to issue a statement simultaneously in India and the U.S.A. ; 
the State Department in Washington was busy giving final 
touches to it. The statement would not be something new ; it 
would be a repetition of an earlier statement (12 August 1942) 
which had emphasized that American troops were in India 
purely for the defence of the country against the Japanese, and 
that they were not to be involved in any internal developments.'^ 
It would keep off the Americans from the internal political 
entanglements, which mjght take a serious turn aftor 
Gandhi’s death. 

However, American public opinion and press were not 
keenly alive to the situation in India. Only the Chicago Sun 
showed some concern and asked for the immediate and 
unconditional release of Gandhi, lest the bad situation in India 
should become incalculably wefrse.®^ Newspapears like the 
New York Herald Tribune, Christian Science Monitor and 
Chicago Daily News vehemently denounced Gandhi for resorting 
to fasting. The New York Herald Tribune believed that to 
release Gandhi would “be a disastrous surrender and parti- 
cularly dangerous under the peril of the war,”®^ The Chicago 
Daily New^ characterized Gandhi’s fast as a stunt.®® There was 
thus “no significant domestic pressure on the Roosevelt 
Administration to exert itself in order to secure Ganhi’s release.”®’ 
While the British Dominions— Canada, Australia, 
New Zealand and South Africa — apparently did not show much 
concern about the Indian political situation, they did show 
some interest in Gandhi’s fast. Clement Attlee, the Deputy 
Prime Minister, kept informed all the Dominion Prime Ministers 
about political developments in India, and particularly about 
G^tndhi’s fast.®® Two of them— Fraser of New Zealand and 

83. Venkataramani and Shrivastava, n, 7l, p. 167. 

84. Chicago Sun^ 23 February 1943. 

85. New York Herald Tribune, 14 February 1943. 

86. Venkataramani and Shrivastava, n. 71, p. 155. 

87. Ibid., p. 156. 

88. Attlee’s letter to Mackenzie King of Canada, Curtin of Australia, 
Fraser of New Zealand and Field Marshal Smuts of South Africa, 10 
February 1943, Mansergh, n. 5, vol. 3, p. 649. Attlee’s letter to 
Mickenzie King of Canada, Curtfn of Australia, Priser of New Zea- 



Field Marshal Smuts of South Africa— showed great anxiety 
about the possibility of Gandhi’s death under detention. Fraser 
told Attlee : “1 cannot help feeling that there is far more to be 
gained by Gandhi’s release than there is by maintenance of a 
course which will bring about the most violent reaction and 
the deification of Gandhi by the whole of India as a martyr in 
what they hold is their struggle for freedom.’*®® The War 
Cabinet had already decided to let Gandhi die rather than 
release him under a threat of fast. Replying to Fraser, 
Attlee said*® : 

... whether or not Gandhi if he died would be regarded as 
a martyr in the cause of India’s freedom, the immediate 
dangers attending his unconditional release in existing 
circumstances are such that the Viceroy is not prepared to 
face them and we accept his judgment. 

Field Marshal Smuts, wi)o was once Gandhi's opponent, 
conveyed his uneasiness to Attlee. “Gandhi’s death should be 
avoided by all means if possible, and it is worth considering 
whether forcible feeding by injections or otherwise should not 
be applied to him...’’®i The suggestion of “forcible feeding,’’ 
made in good faith by Smuts, was found impracticable by 
Attlee for in Gandhi’s case that “would be most repugnant to 
Indian sentiment.’’*® 


All efforts to secure Gandhi’s release had thus failed. 
Either Gandhi would die or he would survive by his sheer 
inner strength. The whole atmosphere was surcharged with 
tension and anxiety. 

The Government knew it well that Gandhi’s fast would 
create many medical hazards. Roger Lumley, the Bombay 
Governor, at the very beginning had suggested that Dr. M D.D. 
Gilder (who had treated Gandhi earlier) should be transferred 

land and Field Marshal Smuts of South Africa, 22 February 1943, 
ih/d , pp. 715-6. 

89. Fraser to Attlees, 21 February 1943, ibid, p. 721. 

90. Attlee to Fraser, 25 February 1943, ib.d., p. 731. 

91. Field Marshal Smuts to Attlee, 25 February 1943, ibid., p. 730. 

92. Attlee to Field Marshal Smuts, 27 February 1943, ibid., p. 744.. 

Gandhi’s fast and after 


from Ycrvada jail to Agra Khan’s Palace to treat Oandhi during 
his fast.®^ But Linlithgow was agaisnt the idea of bringing any- 
body to nurse Gandhi when he was under detention. “Gandhi 
is taking certain risks in this business,” be said, “and must face 
consequences In deference to the opinion of his Executive 
Council, Linlithgow later agreed reluctantly to provide full 
medical facilities to Gandhi. 

Besides Dr. R H. Candy, the Surgeon General ofBombay, 
the Government of India permitted Dr. B.C. Roy, Dr. M.D.D. 
Gilder, Dr. Sushila Nayar and Dinshaw Mehta (a specialist on 
nature cure method) to attend on Gandhi. According to earlier 
arrangements, the Government allowed Devadas Gandhi to 
stay in the Aga Khan's Palace to attend on his father 
during hi$ fast. 

On the basis of medical advice, the Government of India 
calculated that Gandhi would tollapse after five days of his 
fast. Accordingly, it warned the provincial Governments to 
keep in touch with the Army Commanders as regards military 
deployments, etc. The Bombay Government would send the 
code word RUBICON to the provincial Governments, if 
Gandhi were to die. Immediately after that all trunk telephone 
lines with Poona would be cut off for two hours. After his 
death, processions, public meetings and similar public demons- 
trations would be allowed for a few days, and after some time, 
restrictions would be reimposed.®* After Gandhi’s death, the 
press would be allowed to carry news about his death, his 
funeral, etc., along with some commemorative articles ; but no 
anti Government comments would be allowed. 

Officially, the Government would announce the news in 
the following way : “The Government of India regret to 
announce that Mr. Gandhi died while in detention at Poona 

at hours on from collapse/heart failure following a 

self-imposed fast.” The provincial Governments were also 
informed that there would be no closure of offices, no half- 

93. Lumlcy (Bombay) to Linlithgow, 2 February 1943, ibid., p, 572. 

94. Linlithgow to Lumlcy (Bombay), 3 February 1943, ibid., p. 578. 

95 Linlithgow to all Provincial Governors, 17 February 1943, ibid.,p, 
682. Linlithgow to Lumlcy, 18 February 1943, ibid., pp. 684-6. In case 
of QandhTs death, London was to be informed by the code word. 
EXTRA. Linlithgow to Amcry, 19 February 1943, ibid , p. 691. 



masting or other official signs of mourning. No official message 
of condolence would be sent to his widow. Full discretionary 
powers were granted to the Governors to deal with the local 
situations. The Government of India at first was thinking of 
showing some official recognition by closure of offices for a day 
or half a day, as a measure to satisfy public sentiment. Bfit 
this idea was later dropped. It was also arranged that after 
Gandhi’s funeral, his ashes would be kept in Poona for some 
time and later secretly flown to a place selected by his relatives. 
By no means would these be sent by train, because there was 
the constant danger of mob frenzy throughout the route.®® 

Other necessary arrangements would be made by the 
Bombay Government. The Bombay Governor had already 
made plans for deployment of troops in strategic places. He 
also sent one British official (Bristow) to Poona to make 
arrangements for Gandhi’s funeral.®’ In case Gandhi survived, 
the Government would prohibit all interviews and return as 
soon as possible to the status quo ante.^^ 

The Government was thus prepared to meet all even- 
tualities as a result of Gandhi’s fast. The Governor of the 
Central Provinces, on instructions from New Delhi, decided that 
in the event of Gandhi’s death, he would issue immediately a 
Gazette Extraordinary applying Defence of India Rule 56 
throughout the province ; condolence meetings would be allowed 
to take place within buildings, not in public places. Disagreeing 
with the Government of India, the Governor believed that the 
attempt at pacification by permitting the masses “to give vent 
to their feelings would not be feasible. The left-wingers and 
the students might take advantage of the concession to create 
more chaos in the country. The Governor assured the Viceroy : 
**If disorders are attempted we shall hit back immediately 
with considerably greater force than in August last.”®® 

96. Linlithgow to all Provincial Governors, 17 February 1943, p. 
682. Linlithgow to Lumley (Bombay). 18 February 1943, /6/</,pp. 
682-6. Linlithgow to Amcry, 19 February 1943, ibid., p. 692. Linlith- 
gow to all Provincial Governors, 20 February 1943, ibid., pp. 704-5. 

97. Lumely to Linlithgow, 4 March 1943, ibid., p. 760, 

98. Linlithgow to Bajpai, Agent General Washington, 26 February 1943, 
ibid., p. 735. 

99. Home Political File No. 4/3/43. 



From the very beginning of the fast, Gandhi’s fpbysical 
condition caused considerable anxiety to the attending doctors. 
He passed a critical period from 18 February to 23 February 
1943. On 21 February, the doctors declared ; “...if the fast 
is not ended without delay, it may be too late to save his life.”^®® 
But Gandhi baflBed all, particularly medical men, and 
survived the ordeal. The fast was broken according to plan, on 
3 March 1943, at 9,34 A.M. 

This remarkable feat of Gandhi, however, stupefied the 
British press and the British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill. 
It was beyond Churchill’s comprehension how the old man 
could survive a twenty-one day fast. From the very beginning 
he was intrigued by this thought and felt suspicious about the 
genuineness of the fast.“* On 13 February 1943, he told 
Linlithgow : “1 have heard that Gandhi usually has glucose in 
his water when doing his various'fasting antics.”^®® Linlithgow, 
however, informed him that though his medical attendants were 
trying to persuade Gandhi to take glucose, he had refused 
absolutely.!®* This reply could not satisfy Churchill at all. So 
again on 25 February 1943, he telegraphed to the Viceroy*®! : 
Cannot help feeling very suspicious of bonafides of 
Gandhi’s fast. We were told fourth day would be the 
crisis and then well staged climax was set for eleventh day 
onwards. Now at fifteenth day bulletin looks as if he 
might get through. Would be most valuable my (any ?) 
fraud could be exposed. Surely with ail these Congress 
Hindu doctors round him it is quite easy to slip glucose 
or other nourishment into his food. 

It seemed that whatever New Delhi might say, Churchill 
was determined to tell the world that it was a fraudulent fast. 
On 26 January 1943, he told Field Marshal Smuts that during 
the past week Gandhi had been eating better meals than him. 
“What fools we should have been,” he said, “to flinch before 

100. Gandhi, n. 51, p. 200. 

101. Ibid., pp. 201-2. 

102: Churchill to Linlithgow, 13 February 1943. Mansergh, n 5 vol 3 
p. 659. 

lOJ. Linlithgow to Churchill, IS February 1943, (A/W., p. 669. Linlithgow 
told Amery : “There is no suggestion that any glucose is being 
taken” (by Gandhi). 23 February 1943, ibid , p. 718. 

104. Churchill to Linlithgow, 25 February 1943, ibid., p. 730. 



all this bluff and sob-stuff.”^®* Linlithgow also now changed 
his tune and telegraphed to Churchill, on 26 February 1943, 
that he had long known Gandhi as ‘'the world’s most successful 
humbug” and had not the least doubt that his physical condi- 
tion and the bulletins reporting it from day to day had been so 
cooked as to produce the maximum effect upon public opinion. 
There would be no difficulty in his entourage administering 
glucose or any other food without the knowledge of the Govern- 
ment doctors. The degree of nervous tension and hysteria 
engendered by all “the Hindu hocus pocus is beyond belief.”^®® 
Churchill felt happy and encouraged by this report. He 
suggested to the Viceroy that the Government of India should 
make an effort to ridicule Gandhi’s fast. Congratulating the 
Viceroy, he said : “It now seems almost certain that the old 
rascal will emerge all the better from his so-called fast. ..How 
foolish those cowardly Ministers now look who ran away from 
a bluff and sob-stuff crisis. Your own strong cool sagacious 
handling of the matter has given me the greatest confidence 
and satisfaction.”^®’ 

Linlithgow fully shared the glow of victory and told 
Amery : “We have exposed the Light of Asia— -Wardba version 
— for the fraud it undoubtedly is : blue glass with a tallow 
candle behind it !”^ In the same mood he wrote to Roger 
Lumley, who had been consistently opposing the Viceroy’s 
policy towards Gandhi, that they had blunted the weapon of 
the fast. Congress had suffered a significant defeat ; the 
Muslims, the Scheduled castes and the services had been 
encouraged. The Government had gained a reputation for 
resolution and firmness of purpose.^®® 

Both Churchill and Linlithgow were greatly disappointed 
by Surgeon-General R.H. Candy’s verdict : “I am however, 
convinced that if anything was added to his diet, he [Gandhi] 
was ignorant of the fact. If anybody added anything, c.g. 
glucose, I think the culprit was Dr. Sushila Nayar.’’^^® The 

105. Churchill to Field Marshal Smuts, 26 February 1943, ibid,, p. 738. 

106. Linlithgow to Churchill. 26 February 1943, ibid., p. 737. 

107. Churchill to Linlithgow. 28 February 1 943, ibid., p. 744. 

108. Linlithgow to Amery, 2 March 1943, ibid., p. 746. 

109. Linlithgow to Lumely (Bombay), U March 1945, ibid., p. 788. 

no. Secret Note on Mr. Gandhi’s Fast, 10 February— 3 March : 5 Miirch 

0ANPHI*S fast and AFTfcIt 


report bad clearly established the fact that Gandhi was above 
all suspicions. Nevertheless, Churchill not only repeated the 
charge that Gandhi was taking glucose during his fast, but even 
made ihe preposterous assertion that Gandhi had “abandoned” 
his fast after being convinced of British “obduracy,”^^i 

The Government’s intention was further revealed when it 
issued a “white paper” on Congress Responsibility for the 
Disturbances 1942-43, on 13 February 1943, while Gandhi was 
fighting “every inch of the ground” to survive. The purpose of 
this statement was to tarnish Gandhi’s image by implicating 
him with mob violence. Gandhi naturally felt suspicious about 
the timing of this publication, and later asked the Additional 
Home Secretary, Government of India ; “The date is ominous. 
Why was the period of my fast chosen for publishing a docu- 
ment in which 1 am the target He added emphatically : 

“This train of reasoning has led me to the inference that it was 

1943, Report by R.H. Candy, Surgeon-General. Bombay, ibid,, 
p. 771. 

111. Churchill in his war memoirs writes ; “I was certain however at an 
early stage thar he was being fed with glucose whenever be drank 
water, and this, as well as his intense vitality and life-long austerity 
enabled this frail being to maintain his prolonged abstention from 
any visible form of food ... In the end, being quite convinced of 
our obduracy, he abandoned hit fast, and his health, though he was 
very weak, was not seriously affected.” Winston S. Churchill, 
The Second World War, Vol.4, The Hinge of Fla/e (London, 1951), 

pp. 660-1. 

112. M.K. Gandhi to R Tottenham (Additional Home Secretary, 
Government of India), 15 July 1943, Gandhiji's Correspondence^ 0,2, 
p. 118. In fact, for some time past the Government of India was 
seriously considering the publication of a document putting all 
responsibility for the disturbances on the Congress in general and 
Gandhi in particular. Afier receiving Gandbi*s letters Linlithgow 
felt urgent necessity and usefulness of such a document, where the 
burden of responsibility could be fixed on Congress “for the violent 
and revolutionary character of the rising last autumn.” He felt 
that “...It would be of very great value if we could,... publicly fix that 
burden on them (Congress leaders) fairly and squarely, in such a way 
that they could not escape it.** Linlithgow to Amery, 26 January 
1943, Mansergh, n. 5, vol. 3, p. 547. Linlithgow was pressing his 
officials to expedite the work so that it could be published before 
Gandhi’s fast (9 February 1943), Linlithgow to Amery, 4 February 
1943, ibid,, p. 582, 



published in expectation of my death which medical opinion 
must have considered almost a certainty”. Additional 
Secretary curtly replied to Gandhi : “I am to remind you that 
the document in question was published for the information of 
the public and not for the purpose of convincing you or 
eliciting your defence. On top of it, Gandhi’s request for 
the publication of his letter was turned down on the ground 
that the Government would not act as agents for his propa- 
ganda.^i® In desperation Gandhi observed : “In the present 
case the prosecutor happens to be also the policeman and 
jailor. He first arrests and gags his victims, and then opens his 
case behind their backs. 


The injustice of the Goternment, did not go unnoticed 
and unchallenged. The non-party leaders headed by Tej 
Bahadur Sapru, meeting in New Delhi on 24 May 1943, 
demanded an impartial investigation into the causes of the 
prolonged detention of the Congress leaders. Further, they said 
that in case the Government was not going to set up an 
impartial tribunal, then for the sake of justice Gandhi and othei 
Congress leaders must be set at liberty. The Government had 
never taken the Non-Party Leaders Conference seriously. 
Linlithgow’s opinion about them was^i® : 

None of them count for a row of pins. They stand for 
nothing in the country. I doubt very much many of them 

113. Gandhiji's Correspondence, n. 2, pp. 117-264; also Correspondence 
with Mr. Gandhi, u. 2, pp- 34-112. 

114. R. Tottenham to M.K. Gandhi, 14 October 1943, ibid., p. 266 

115. Ibid., p. 269. 

116. M.K. Gandhi to R. Tottenham, 15 July 1943, ibid,, p, 119. 

117. Gandhi, n. 51, pp. 242-4. The statement was signed by Tej Bahadur 
Sapru, M.R. Jayakar, Sachchidananda Sinha, Chunilal B. Mehta, 
Raja Maheswar Dayai Seth and Kunwar Jagdish Prasad. Ibid. 
Their earlier attempt (Bombay meeting, 10 March 1943), to seek an 
interview with Gandhi did not succeed. The Viceroy rejected their 
plea on the ground that their organization was not a representative 
one ; it had not condemned violence unequivocally ; and Gandhi 
had not repudiated the Quit India resolution. Ibid., pp. 232..5. 

118. Linlithgow to Lumley (Bombay), 11 March 1943, Mansergb. n. 5, 
vol. 3, p. 789. 



being able to win an election. They have done nothing 
to help us, and I am not a bit concerned about their 
feelings in the present circumstances... they are wholly 

The Government of India sent a communication to 
Gandhi on 14 October 1943, reiterating that his case could be 
reviewed if he agreed to fulfill certain preconditions, like 
disassociating himself from the Congress resolution of 8 August 
1942, unequivocally condemning the violent outrages that had 
occurred after the passing of that resolution, declaring himself 
clearly in favour of the use of Indian resources for the pro- 
secution of the war against the Axis powers and in particular 
Japan, until victory wrs won, and finally, giving satisfactory 
assurances for good conduct in future.^^® 

The Government of India, ^f course, knew it well that no 
self-respecting person, not to speak of Gandhi, would accept 
these conditions. The fact was that it was not prepared to 
allow the Congress to function in the open so long as the war 
continued. As Reginald Maxwell observed^^® : 

A party with such a record obviously can no longer claim 
to take any share in the administration of the country in 
war, nor, without complete and unconditional capitulation 
and the fullest guarantees of future conduct, can it safely 
be allowed freedom of action until the war is won. 

On 4 May 1943, Gandhi made an attempt to communi- 
cate with Jinnah with a view to finding “a common solution** 
to “the great question of communal unity.” This letter was 
written in response to Jinnah’s public invitation to him.i*^ 
Upon a reference from the Government of India, the War 
Cabinet decided against the delivery of this letter to Jinnah. 

119, R. Tottenham’s (Additional Secretary, Home Department, Govern- 
ment of India) letter to M.K. Gandhi, 14 October 1943, GandhiJVs 
Correspondence, n. 2, p, 270. Also Correspondence with Mr, Gandhi^ 
n. 2. pp 112-4. 

12o* Note by Reginald Maxwell, the Home Member, Government of India 
Linlithgow to Amery, 15 March 1943, Mansergh, n. 5, vol. 3, 
p. 803. 

121. M.K. Gandhi to M.A. Jinnah, 4 May 1943, GandhijPs Correspondence^ 
n. 2, pp. 89-90r 

122. Minutes of the War Cabinet, 18 May 1843, Mansergb, n. 5, vol. 3^ 
p. 994. 



Amery told Linlithgow that “he [Gandhi] is kept incommunicado 
because of his responsibility for rebellion and must remain so 
until he disassociates himself from that policy. '’^ 2 ® Explaining 
its reason for refusal, the Government of India said that it could 
not give facilities for political correspondence to a person who 
was detained for promoting an illegal mass movement. It was 
further stated that if Gandhi dissociated himself from the 
movement, he would be allowed to take part in the public affairs 
of the country. There was “extreme improbability” that 
there would be any change in the psychological make-up of the 
Congress leaders. As such the Government was set for a long 
period of status quo. 

Linlithgow was succeeded by Lord Wavell on 20 October 
1943. In his maiden speech in the Central Legislature on 
17 February 1944, the new Viceroy called upon every Congress- 
man to withdraw individually from the Quit India resolution by 
using his own conscience. In this context, he said^^® : 

But I sec no reason to release those responsible for the 
declaration of August 8th, 1942, until I am convinced 
that the policy of non-cooperation and even of obstruction 
has been withdrawn — not in sackcloth and ashes, that 
helps no one — but in recognition of a mistaken and 
unprofitable policy. 

Needless to say, Gandhi was all the time prepared to face 
an open trial. Even as early as 15 July 1943, he pleaded for the 
setting up of an impartial tribunal and wrote that a big political 
organization and not a mere individual was involved in the 
charges. He held that it should be a vital part of the war 
effort to have the issue decided by a tribunal. But mutual 
discussion and effort were considered undesirable and futile 
by the Government.^*® 

122. Amery to Linlithgow, 9 May 1943, thid,, p. 955. In another letter to 
Linliihgow, Amery said ; “...that Gandhi & Co. are off the telephone 
until they come to terms with the Post Office and are prepared to 
behave like ordinary subscribers,’* Amery to Linlithgow, 25 May 

1943, /fc/£f.,p. 1013. 

123. Government of India’s Press Gandhiji^s Correspondence, 

n, 2. p. 91. 

124. Indxdi, Council of State Debates, vol. 1, 1944, Official report, session 

1944, pp. 33-9. 

125. M.K. Gandhi to Additional Home Secretary, Government of India, 



As regards Lord Wavell’s appeal to individual Congress 
members to eschew the August 8 resolution, Gandhi said that 
it was an impossible proposition. A resolution passed by joint 
deliberation could only be withdrawn by joint discussion. 
Individual conscience had nothing to do here unless it was 
approved jointly ; besides a prisoner had no freedom to exercise 
his conscience.^^’ It was only logical that Gandhi should there* 
after inform the Viceroy in categorical terms that “unless there 
is a change of heart, view and policy on the part of the 
Government, I am quite content to remain your prisoner. 

This Gandhi did on 9 April 1944. In the meantime, on 
22 February 1944, he lost his wife. Kasturba Gandhi, who had 
for some time been suffering from chronic bronchitis. She, 
too, like Mahadev Desai, was cremated within the jail 
compound in the presence of Gandhi, their two sons and other 
inmates of the detention camp, Gandhi’s correspondence with 
the Government shows that Kasturba did not receive timely 
medical help although Gandhi had been asking for it since 
12 March 1943. Later, Gandhi himself suffered from malaria 
and was also infected by hookworms. 

The Government of India finally decided to release Gandhi 
and others who were detained with him on 6 May 1944. Gandhi 
was released unconditionally on medical grounds. The Home 
Department of the Government of India advised the provincial 
Governments on 5 May 1944 that the prees might be permitted 
some ‘'blowing off of steam” for a day or two ; but it should 
not be allowed to play up the situation by using Gandhi’s 
condition for political ends. Nor should any “intemperate 
or malicious” criticism of the Government’s treatment of 

15 July 1943, GandhtjVs Correspondence, n. 2, p. 272 ; also Correspon- 
dence with Mr, Gondhi, n. 2, p. 11 2. 

127. M.K. Gandhi to Lord WavcII, 9 March 1944, GandhijYs Correspon- 
dence, n. 2, p 321. 

128. M K. Gandhi to Lord Wavcll, 9 Aprin944, ibid,f pp, 329-30. Also 
Correspondence with Mr. Gandhi, n. 2» pp. 124-5. 

129. GandhiJVs Correspondence, n. 2, pp. 275-304. Gandhi’s Private 

Secretary, Pyarelal mentions : “Facilities for seeing her rear relatives 
and getting nursing and medical aid were obtained after protracted 
correspondence, and in almost every case the relief, when it came, 
came too late.” Introduction by Pyarelal, p.xxviii.. 



Gandhi be allowed. Should that, however, happpen, pre- 
censorship would be re-imposed.*®® 

The Government could not have been more pleasantly 
surprised than it was by public reaction to Gandhi’s release. 
It was hailed as an act of humanity and political wisdom. But 
it also generated the hope that the Government would regard 
Gandhi’s release as a deus ex-machina, and resolve the deadlock 
which had for so long been like a running sore.*®* Though the 
Government could not have relished this, the release gave rise 
to a wave of wishful optimism among large sections of Indians. 
For the Government was unwilling to flinch from its 
policy of maintaining the status quo for some time more. The 
day of settlement between the Congress and the Raj was 
still far off. 


Gandhi, who had been away from the political scene for 
about twenty-one months, found the situation full of uncertainty. 
He felt out of gear. The recent loss of his wife and of Mahadev 
Desai, his right-hand man, had considerably shaken him. The 
fast and then malaria had wrecked him. Physically unfit and 
mentally tired Gandhi decided to retire for long rest near the 
Juhu beach in Bombay. 

But seclusion from politics was difficult. People would not 
allow him to be aloof and indifferent. The whole nation, so it 
seemed, was eager to know Gandhi’s loud thinking ; and he 
felt obliged to make an agonizing reappraisal of the whole 
situation. He saw that his familiar world of 1942 had almost 
disappeared. A sense of political demoralization and depression 
prevaded the whole nation. Inter-party bickering and anta- 
gonisms had helped the Government play its game of majority 
versus minority in a very clever way. Only one party, the 
Muslim League, had acquired some amount of power and 
prestige during this period. Otherwise, the country was 
politically at its lowest ebb. Gandhi could also see that the 
Allied powers were now in a much better position and the Axis 

130. Home Political File No. 33/19/44. 

131. Home Political File No. 18/5/44, Fortnightly report, Bombay, May 

Gandhi’s fast and aftbh 


powers were everywhere retreating. Japan no longer posed a 
threat to India's security. It was so much more diflScult now to 
pressurize Great Britain. After the conclusion of the war, a 
victorious Great Britain would pay so much less attention to 
the Congress demands. Gandhi felt that if he did not move 
right then, it would be too late afterwards. The underground 
leaders-some of whom also met him-were, of course, deter- 
mined to go on fighting. But that could have offered poor 
solace to Gandhi. The immediate task w'as to obtain the 
legalization of the Congress and the release of the Congress 
leaders. A new exercise had to be attempted : to adopt a 
conciliatory approach towards the Government without giving 
up the Quit India resolution. 

Immediately after his release, Gandhi made his first move 
by seeking an interview with the Viceroy to personally impress 
upon him the urgency of the matter But the Viceroy refused 
permission on the ground that Gandhi was yet to disassociate 
himse'f from the Quit India resolution. No meeting, he 
believed, could be successful because of the '‘existing radical 
difference in their points of view.’' He asked Gandhi to 
produce “a more definite and constructive programme. 

Gandhi utilized the opportunity presented by an interview, 
on 4 July 1944, with Stuart GMtr o^ih^ News Chronicle of 
London to elaborate such a programme. Disavowing any 
intention to launch a civil disobedience movement that would 
embarrass the Government at that time, Gandhi suggested the 
immediate formation of a National Government with full 
control of civil adminstration. This would consist of persons 
chosen by the elected members of the Central Assembly. He 
conceded the defence and military powers to the Viceroy and 
his Commander-in-Chief, Of course, a defence member of the 
National Government would be there to assist the Viceroy and 
his Commander-in-Chief. The Allied powers would be allowed 
to carry out their operations in India. The Viceroy’s position 
in such a Government would be like that of the King of 
England ; he would be guided by responsible ministers. Popular 

132. M K. Gandhi to Lord WavcU, 17 June P44, Pyarelal (Comp), 
G mdhijVs Correspondence with the Government, 1944 47 (Ahmedabad, 
Navajivan Publishing House, 1959), p. 3. 

133. Lord Wavell to M.K, Oandbi, 22 June 1944, ibid^, p. 4. 



Government would also be restored in all the provinces. But 
before any other step was taken, Gandhi wanted the Govern- 
ment to make a forthright declaration of its intention to 
transfer power to Indian hands immediately after the war. 

At the same time, Gandhi expressed his inability to 
commit the Congress to any course of action without consulting 
the CWC. The only assurance he could give was that he would 
advise the Congress to participate in the war-time National 
Government. As regards his own position in such an even- 
tuality, he said that he would be only an adviser to the Congress. 
He would also attempt to keep India peace-minded and influence 
her world policy in the direction of international peace 
and brotherhood. 

On 27 July 1944, Gandhi reassured the Viceroy that if the 
Government agreed to make an immediate declaration about 
Indian independence and showed its readiness to installa National 
Government, he would advise the CWC “to declare that in 
view of changed conditions mass civil di^obediencc envisaged 
by the resolution of August 1942 cannot be offered and that full 
cooperation in the war effort should be given. He followed 
it up with an appeal to Winston Churchill, “to trust and use me 
for the sake of your people and through them those ot the 
world. Attaching “very great importance” to his letter to 
Winston Churchill because of the “psychological moment”, 
Gandhi attributed a “sacred character” to Charactersli- 

cally enough, Churchill simply acknowledged the receipt of the 
letter and did not care to reply to Only a section of the 

Liberal party took some interest in Gandhi’s proposals and 
pressed for a debate on India. But the Parliament seemed too 
engrossed with the war to be meaningfully aware of the 
Indian question.^^® 

134. Home Political File No, 4/7/44. Also Gandtiiji's Correspondence, 
n. J32. pp. 288-5. 

J35. M.K. Gandhi to Lord Wavell, 27 July 1944, ibid , p. 6. 

136. M.K. Gandhi to Winston Churchill, 17 July 1944, ibid., p. U. 

137. M.K. Gandhi to E.M. Jenkins, 17 September 1944, ibtd., p. 13. 

138. Lord Wavell to M.K. Gandhi, 2 November 1944, ibid., p. 15. 

13^. When the Indian question was discussed in the House of Commons, 
the number of audience did not exceed forty, and was reduced to 
twenty-five when Amery spoke. Home Political File No. 4/6/44. 



The Government kept the door firmly bolted from inside. 
Gandhi’s successive attempts to open it were of no avail. He 
received nothing but rebuffs. The Viceroy plainly told him, on 
15 August 1944, that his proposals could not provide a basis for 
discussion because the Government was committed “to safeguard 
the interests of the racial and religious minorities and of the 
depressed classes, and their treaty obligations to the Indian 
states.” The Viceroy added that a National Goverrment could 
only be formed if there was a prior agreement between the 
Hindus and the Muslims and other important elements about 
the method by which the new constitution would be Iramcd. 
The Government was at that time not prepared to share military 
and defence responsibilities with any other authority. 

Gandhi naturally felt dismayed and depressed, in a letter 
to Agatha Harrison, he expressed flis profound sorrow : “Every- 
thing I do turns to dust. It must be so, so long as I am 
‘untrust-worthy’.” He refused to despair, and wrote later : 
“If I represent the truth and if Ido as God bids me, I know that 
the wall of distortion and suspicion will topple. 

In order to meet WavelPs point about the need for a 
settlement between the Congress and the Muslim League, 
Gandhi accepted the Rajagopalachari formula which provided 
that if the Muslim League endorsed the demand for indepen- 
dence and cooperated with the Congress in forming a 
provisional interim Government during the war, the Congress 
would agree to a future plan according to which the Muslim 
majority districts could be cemarcated through a plebiscite. 
According to reports reaching the Go\errment, the Muslims in 
general fell happy at Gandhi’s acceptance of the Rajagopala- 
chari formula. They thought that i? amounted to Gandhi’s 
acceptance of Pakistan in principle. On the other hand, the 
National Liberal Federation and the Hindu Maha^abha were 
critical of the formula. Although there w as a feeling that Gandhi 
had no real intention of conceding the demand for Pakistan, 
some prO'Congress elements felt that he bad let down the 
Congress and the Hindu community. But many people still 
believed that nothing would happen as Jinnah was not likely to 

140, Lord Wavell to M.K. Gandhi, 15 August 1944, Gandhiji's Cofrtspon- 
dence, n. 132, pp. 7-9. 

141. M.K. Gandhi to Agatha Harrison, 13 July 1944, ibid,^ pp. 33*4. 


cooperate with the formation of a National Government.^* This 
was confirmed when negotiations between Gandhi and Jinnah, 
held at the former’s initiative, failed to produce any agreement.*** 
Gandhi was now undoubtedly following a course which 
represented a departure from the Quit India resolution. This 
showed his pragmatism and sense of tactics. Many of his 
followers, however, failed to show equal appreciation of the 
realities of the changed situation. The hard-core stubborn 
Congress non-cooperators and the younger elements particularly 
raised a storm of protest against Gandhi’s conciliatory moves. 
His attempts at rapprochement with the Government and with 
the Muslim League and his call to underground workers to 
surrender became controversial topics. The younger elements 
in the Congress felt that the underground activists were only 
following Gandhi’s exhortation to “Do or Die.’’ They felt 
surprised that while Gandhi had not committed the Congress 
on the question of the National Government, he had accepted 
the Rajagopalachari formula without consulting the CWC, and 
also opened negotiations with Jinnah. According to Intelli- 
gence reports from Bombay, the younger elements angrily 
pointed to the fact that this 'surrender’ had earned nothing 
but further humiliation for the Congress. Though very restive 
and privately bitterly critical, they were far too disciplined to 
attack Gandhi publicly. The older group of Congressmen, 
though feeling that Gandhi had recently coniroitted several 
tactical blunders, considered that it was their sacred duty to 
support him.“* 

Whatever that may have been, after meeting set-backs 
and rebuffs from various quarters, Gandhi turned his attention 

142. Oovernor-Oeneral to Secretary of State for India, 22 August 1944. 
Home Political File No. 51/6/44. 

143. Gandhi-Jinnah correspondence started on 17 Ju'y 1944 ; their talks 
commenced on 9 September 1944 and continued till 27 September, but 
the two failed to reach an agreement. The correspondence was 
released to the press on 29 September 1944. An idea of the main 
points of the differences between them can be had from the corres- 
pondence exchanged between them on this occasion. See N.N. Misra 
(Ed.L The Indian Annual Register, Vol. 2, 1944 (Calcutta. D.d ), pp. 

144. Homs Political File No. 18/8/44. Fortnightly report, Bombay, August 

OANOHI’S fast and AFtEll 


towards the constructive programme of the Congress as he had 
done in the past under similar circumstances. There was 
apparently nothing else for him to do than just wait till the 
British Government had realized that the continuation of the 
political deadlock in India was not in its interest. 

That realization came only in June 1945, after the 
surrender of Germany and the end of the war in Europe. The 
gates of the Ahmednagar Fort were now opened and the Con- 
gress leaders along with their Muslim League counterparts and 
others hurried to a conference with the Viceroy at Simla. That 
marked the first round of a process which was to end two 
years later in partition and independence. The role of the 
Quit India movement in bringing about this process will be 
better understood if we examine the impact of that movement 
in India and abroad. 



after suppressing the mass upsurge of August-Septenibcr 
1942, the British lapse^J iuto euphoria for some time, 
assuming that they had effeclively removed the Congress from 
the centre of Indian politics. la a state of disarray and dis- 
organization, the Congress was thought to have been rendered 
incapable of posing any threat to the Government.^ As early 
as 10 September 1942, Prime Minister Churchill declared in the 
British Parliament^: 

The Indian Congress party does not represent all India. 
It does not represent the majority of the people of India. 
It does not even represent the Hindu masses. It is a 
political organization built around a party machine and 
sustained by certain manufacturing and financial interests. 
Ninety million Muslims, fifty million depressed classes or 
untouchables, and ninety-five million Indians of Princely India, 
Churchill contended, were fundamentally opposed to the 
Congress. He included the Christians and the Sikhs, too, in 
this category of anti-Congress elements. The Congress as such 
was a non-representative and powerless organization which 
could do no harm. That the situation in India was normal 
was proved by the fact that 140,000 new recruits had joined 
the army during the time of the disturbances. He assured the 

1. Governor-General to Secretary of State for India, 1 September 1942, 
Home Political File No. 97/42. National Archives, New Delhi. 

2. U K Co n nons, Parliamentary Debates, series 5, vol. 383, session 
1942, cols. 302-5. 



House of Commons that there was no occasion for undue 
despondency or alarm. If anything untoward happened in 
India, proper action would be taken, for “the number of white 
soldiers now in that country are larger than at any time in the 
British connection.”^ He even asked his countrymen to ignore 
the Congress totally. Subsequently he wrote in his memoirs^ : 
The measures proposed by the Vicero> and confirmed by 
the War Cabinet w^ere soon effective. They proved the 
superficial character of the Congress Party's influence 
upon the masses of the Indian people, among whom there 
was deep fear of being invaded by Japan and who looked 
to the King-Emperor to protect them. Daring the whole 
of this direct trial of strength with the Congress leaders, 
many thousands of fresh volunteers came forward to join 
the Indian Army. What was at one time feared to be- 
come the most serious rebellion in India since the Sepoy 
Mutiny of 1857, fizzled out in a fev\ montlis with hardly 
any loss of life. 

How mistaken this attitude was, becomes clear from the 
impressions of a B.B.C. official who was in India during the 
period of the mass upsurge. In a note submitted to Stafford 
Cripps, who wanted it to be circulated among the members of 
the War Cabinet, the official observed^ : 

When I arrived in India, I learned from Indians that 
British prestige had never been lower and that bitterness 
against the British had never been so intense. When I 
left four months later nothing had occurred to restore our 
prestige as men of soldiers, and as we had just shot more 
Indians than we have ever done at one lime since the 
Mutiny, the bitterness against us had intensified... 

That Congress now has the sympathy of the people, 
there can be no doubt. The publication of the Allahabad 
papers in an attempt to discredit Congress was regarded 
as contemptible and did a great deal to help Congress, 

3. Ibid. 

4. Winston S. Churchill. The Second World Wnr^ VoL 4, The Hinge of 
Fa{€ (London, 1951), pp. 456-7. 

5. Enclosure to Amery’s letter to Linlithgow, 3 November 1942, Nicho- 
las Manscrgh.ed., The Transfer of Power, VoL 3, 21 September--- \2 
June 1943 (London, 19>1), pp. 196-200. 



The arrest of the leaders had the usual effect of enshrining 
them once again as national heroes, and the shooting did 
the rest. India, outside the Punjab and the Stales, is 
united against us at the very moment when Ve most 
require its co-operation in the running of a campaign in 

Indeed if he had cared to keep himself informed of the 
feelings of the Indian people, Churchill might easily have had 
an idea of the nature of support enjoyed by the Congress in 
India. Even a British owned paper. Civil and Military Gazette 
commented : “It is merely fatuous casuistry to seek to lower 
the prestige of the Congress by subtracting from India’s myriads 
the millions who do not owe allegiance to this organization and 
displaying the remaining few as possible Congress adherents.”* 
Churchill’s fulminations against the Congress stirred up 
nationalist sentiments all over India. The non-party leaders, 
and the Hindu Mahasabha leaders in particular, expressed pro- 
found indignation over his statement and questioned the 
authenticity of the facts quoted by him. According to the 
non party leaders his statement showed the bankruptcy of the 
British policy. They believed that \\hitehall was devoid of all 
statesmanship and bad no capacity to foresee the results of its 
faulty policy. In a joint statement issued on 16 September 1942, 
Tcj Bahadur Sapru and M.R. Jayakar observed : “This is not 
the first time in Indian history that the political estimate of the 
Government of India and their advisers has proved to 
be wrong.”^ 

Another Liberal leader, Chimanlal Setalvad, found Chur- 
chill’s statement '‘most unfortunate”, and said : “It misses the 
realities of the Indian situation. The attempt to belittle 
the position and influence of the Congress and to make 
out that it represents a minority of the Indian people will raise 
a smile.*’ He reminded the Prime Minister “that in certain 
circumstances silence is golden.”* 

6. Devadtis OandhI (Comp,), India Unreconciled (New Delhi, 1943), p 49. 

7. Joint statement by Tej Bahadur Sapru and M.R. Jayakar issued at 
Indore, 16 September 1942, /6/d., pp. 45-7. 

S. /6/d., p. 44. 

tMl^ACt IN India and abroad 


The Hindu Mahasabha leaders said that Churchiirs state- 
ment betrayed “lamentable lack of statesmanship” and added* : 
The internal situation in India today is more serious than 
what is depicted to be. The reign of repression has 
accentuated bitterness and has deepened anti-British 
feelings. Let Mr. Churchill along with some representa- 
tives of America, Russia and China visit India and see 
things for himself. 

Before long, Allah Buksh, the leader of the nationalist 
Muslims and the Premier of Sind, challenged the Prime 
Minister’s claim that ninety million Muslims were not partici- 
pating in the freedom struggle. He warned the Government 
that this tvpe of impolitic obstinacy could only result in a 
catastrophe. Not satisfied with this verbal condemnation, he 
retured his O.B E. The Viceroy considered it an insult, and 
ordered the Sind Governor to dismiss the defiant Premier. 
Thus Allah Buksh lost his office in spite of commanding a 
majority in the Assembly. 

At the Centre also the picture was not as bright as it 
seemed to be Among the Indian Councillors, C.P. Ramaswami 
Aiyer was the first to react to the situation. He sought 
permission from the Viceroy to fly to Poona to sec Gandhi, 
whom he would beg to call off the civil disobedience movement. 

Linlithgow felt disturbed by this development, because 
Aiyer offered to resign if his request was rejected Linlithgow 
believed that by approaching Gandhi, Aiyer would encourage 
the Congress and damage the position of the Government. But 
the resultant exit of Aiyar from the Council, too, would tarnish 
the image of the Government. “His Majesty’s Government 
would have misleading and unhappy impressions in Great 
Britain, China and the United States.”^ 

The Viceroy tried his best to dissuade Aiyer from taking 
this step. Finally, the Viceroy and Aiyer reached a compromise, 

9. The statement was issued jointly by Syama Prasad Mookerjee, B.S. 
Moonje, Raja Maheswar Dayal, N.C. Chatterjee and Mehar Chand 
Khanna— all members of the Hindu Mahasabha Special Committee. 
/If'cf., pp. 47-8, 

10. Allah Buksh’s letter tc the Viceroy, 26 September 1942, idid,, 
pp. 74-6 - 

11. Linlithgow to Amery, Mansergh, n. 5, vol. 2, 16 August 1942, 



and the latter left the Council on a different pretext, to safe- 
guard the interests of the Indian States from Congress- League 
politicians, Aiyer had also some differences with the Viceroy 
on the question of imposition of press restrictions-. He had 
failed to check the Government’s favouritism towards the 
Anglo-Indian press. Being the Information Member, he found 
it embarrassing, under the circumstances, to stay on in the 
Government. Aiyer was also worried about the prospects of 
Gandhi’s fast.12 

Besides Aiyer, some other Indian members of the Execu- 
tive Council too felt terribly unhappy at the turn of events. 
Only one member, M.S. Aney. openly said in the beginning of 
the mass upsurge that he was quite happy with the Govern- 
ment’s policy^^ ; but later he joined Homi Mody and N.R. 
Sarkar in submitting resignation as a protest against Govern- 
ment’s policy towards Gandhi’s fast. 

Besides these high-ups in the Government, the movement 
also made a deep impression on the Indian members of the 
various services, including the police. And yet Reginald 
Maxwell publicly boasted that the Services had solidly stood by 
the Government ; not only the police, “on whom the deadliest 
attacks usually tell,” but all ranks of Government servants 
“stood firm and did their duty in lace of all attempts to subvert 
or terrorise theni,”^* 

The real situation was different. As official sources them- 
selves reported, the subordinate Indian officials used to 
worship Gandhi like a demigod. They also regarded his 
sayings as prophecies. The widely circulated rumour associated 
with Gandhi, that within two months India would be indepen- 
dent, had greatly excited them, and they were expecting that 
soon the Government and the Congress would come to 
a settlement,!® 

12. C.P. Raniaswami Aiycr’s first letter to the Viceroy, 14-15 August 1942, 
ibid., pp. 725-6. 

13. IndlsL, Legislative Assembly Debates, vol. 1-2, official report, session 
1943, cols. 307-8. 

14. Reginald Maxwell's speech in the National Defence Council meeting 
on 8 September 1942, Home Political File No. 3/26/42. 

15. Home Political File Nos. 18/8/42, 18/9/42, Fortnightly reports, Bihar, 
U.P., Bombay, August, September 1942- 


Very few Indians resigned their posts. But that did not 
mean that they gave staunch support to the Government either ; 
possibly economic necessity compelled them to stick to their 
jobs. As a psychologically satisfying though quiet, act of 
defiance, some of these officials lent their typewriters, official 
envelopes, service stamps and similar other articles for the 
purpose of despatching “Quit India” notices to the British 
officials, and minatory letters (“Do or Die”) to Indian officials. 
Some of these originated from New Delhi (Karol Bagh) itself. 
The Government even suspected that some railway employees 
were involved in sabotage activities. It had indeed detected in 
New Delhi two cases of internal sabotage — one in the Record 
Room of the South Block of the Secretariat, and the other in 
the Supply Accounts office in the Assembly Chamber.^® 

Village teachers, doctors serving in the rural dispensaries, 
station masters of the railways, and officials in the postal 
department did jiot extend full co-operation to the Government 
in suppressing the disturbances. Particularly, in Bihar, 
Midnapore (Bengal), Satara (Bomby) and Eastern U.P., the 
constabulary, the magistracy and the revenue officials were 
very much affected. In Bombay, many police patels resigned. 

In the Ballia district, U.P., it was reported that the police had 
completely defected.^® 

The Bihar Government was constrained to observe^® : 

In a sudden or extensive popular upheaval like this one... 
We have no Government servants in the mufassil other 
than the regular police and our sources of information 
dry up and local support undergoes severe diminution. 
We could have expected some support from the employees 
of local bodies, but they have in recent years been almost 
all under Congress control. 

The Bihar police struck work on two occasions. About 
one hundred and forty recruits deserted from Nathngar police 
training centre. At Jamshedpur, one head constable led a 
strike of one hundred and twenty policemen on 10 August 

16. Homo Political File No. 3734/42. 

17. Home Political File Nos. 18/8/42, 18/10/42, Fortnightly reports. 
Bombay, August and October 1942. 

18. Home Political File No. 3/16/42. 

19. Home Political File No. 3/i4/42. 



1942 .*® Most of them, however, rejoined duty by 6 September 
1942 . The Government prosecuted thirty-three of them. 
During the trial, these policemen consistently shouted Congress 
and anti-British slogans. Seventeen of the accused lefu^cd to 
be tried under the existing law, and the evidence had to be 
recorded in their absence The Karachi police also went on 
strike on 10 August 1942.*^ In many places, co operation and 
co-ordination were lacking between the police and other 
branches of the administration. Regarding the morale of the 
police, the Superintendent of Police, Chapra (Bihar) reported 
on 15 August 1942 : “We have been watching the attitude of 
the constabulary for the last two days and regard their atti- 
tude with grave apprehension. Wherein we have attempted to 
clear crowds by la! hi charge, they have done the minimum that 
is possible, and it is only the officers who have done all that 
is possible.”*^ 

The forcible elimination of the Congress from the political 
field did not help the Government. Its disappearance, in fact, 
created a big political void in the country. The Governments 
policy of continuing the status quo created a good deal of 
tension and uncertainty about the political future of the 
country. Consequently there was now greater frustration in 
the air than ever before. This in turn awakened a sense of 
urgency and immediacy in the minds of even non-Congress 
leaders. Many of them stressed the desirability of the forma- 
tion of a National Government, respresented by the Congress, 
the Muslim League and the Hindu Mahasabha. There was 
also a widespread demand that the Congress leaders should be 
released forthwith to enable them to participate in such a 
Government. The demand for Gandhi's release became almost 
universal, particularly during his fast. 

The Congress case was also ably put forth on the floors of 
the Central Legislative Assembly by a group of Independents, 

20. K.K. Datta, History of the Freedom Movement InBiha^^ Vol,S, 
1942-4/ (Patna. 1958), p. 220. 

21. Home Political File Nos. 3/34/42, oho 18/10/42, Fortnightly report, 
Bihar, October 1942 Out of thirty-three accused policemen, nineteen 
received from nine months to ore year's rigorous imprisonment, and 
the rest six to eleven months* rigorous imprisonment. 

22. Home Political File No. 3/34/42. 

23. Dutta, Q. 20, p, 60. 



Liberals and members of other political parties. The Muslim 
League, the Europeans and the official nominees, of course, 
formed a solid phalaux against the Congress. In these debates, 
demands were made for Gandhi’s release, transfer of power to 
a National Government, and for instituting an Inquiry Com- 
mittee to investigate the alleged cases of police and military 
excesses. However, all these demands were turned down by 
the Government. 

The prestige of the Congress among the masses was not 
adversely affected. Rather, the news of the sufferings of the 
Congress leaders and workers at the hands of the Government 
raised Congress prestige to a new height. Holding no brief 
for the Congress, Chimanlal Setalvad contradicted the assertion 
that the continued incarceration of its leaders and the fact of 
its being out of power had weakened the Congress hold on the 
country to an extent that the parly for the moment was practi- 
cally dead. Such an assertion was “a gross misconception 
and mis-reading of human psychology.” Setalvad had no 
doubt in his mind that if general elections to the legislatures 
were held the Congress would sweep the polls. 

These were prophetic words. While the Congress leaders 
were in jail, some local board and municipal board elections 
were held. In all these elections, the Congress proved its 
popularity beyond doubt. These bodies refused to function 
after the elections as a mark of protest against the Government’s 
unyielding attitude towards the Congress. 

In many places, legal and relief committees were formed 
to offer legal and financial help to the political sufferers and 
their families. Several non-Congress parties like the Hindu 
Mahasabha, along with some philanthropic organizations, like 
the Servants of India Society, collected substantial funds for 
this cause. Many eminent lawyers like Tej Bahadur Sapru 

24. Homo Pol tlcal File No. 18/4/44, Fortnightly report, Bombay, April 

25. The Surat Congress Municipal Committee decided not to function as 
a protest against the British policy. In its long resolution, it observed ; 
*‘Thls Board fe^ls that no local Self-Government instituticn can dis- 
charge its normal functions in the true interests of the pecple with 
independence and self-respect, and that this Board, inclusive of its 
President and Vice-President, shall cease to furcuon forthwith and 
that this meeting do stand adjourned sine die:* ibid- 



and K.N. Katju offered their services free to many 
Congress workers. 


The impact of the Quit India movement was not confined 
to India. It was felt in several foreign lands. Ever since his 
visit to India, Chiang Kai-shek was keeping a close watch over 
Indian political developments, as the Chinese security problems 
were vitally linked with India’s defence capabilities. Chiang 
Kai-shek had full sympathies for the Congress and its leaders. 
On 30 July 1942, he sent a long message to President 
Roosevelt urging him to intervene in Indian affairs. As he 
put it^’ : 

With both sides remaining adamant in their views, the 
Indian situation has reached an extremely tense and 
critical stage. Its development in fact constitutes the 
most important factor in determining the outcome of the 
United Nations war and especially the war in the East... 
Such an eventuality will seriously affect the whole course 
of the war and at the same time the world might enter- 
tain doubts as to the sincerity of the lofty war aims of the 
United Nations. This will not only prove a great dis- 
advantage to Britain but will also reflect discredit to the 
democratic front. 

He further emphasized that it was the duty of the United 
Nations to prevent the occurrence of “such an unfortunate 
state of affairs.” He felt that, being the leader in that “war of 
right against might,” the United States should take a stand on 
the side of justice and equality, especially as there was still time 
to reach an accord with the Indian nationalists. Chiang Kai- 
shek emphasized that attempts at repression with a view to 
compelling the Indian people to capitulate would have the 
opposite result. He implored, therefore, that “for the sake of 
our common victory the United Nations must seek to stabilise 
the Indian situation and to secure the Indian people’s partici- 

26. In Bengal Rs. 59,000 were collected for this purpose. Home Political 
File No. 4/1/44. 

27. President (Roosevelt) to Prime Minister (Churchill), 30 July 1942, 
Mansergh, n. 5, vol. 2, pp, 529-32. 



pation in the joint war effort.” Though the despatch was 
‘'strictly confidential” and meant for the President’s “personal 
reference,” Roosevelt sent a transcript of this message to Chur- 
chill without giving his personal comment.^® 

Churchill, who had the concept of the Congress as a body 
of lawyers, moneylenders and the Hindu priesthood, told the 
President, on 31 July 1942, that the intelligentsia of non-fighting 
Hindu elements could neither defend India nor raise a revolt. 
He further asserted : “The reckless declarations of Congress 
have moreover given rise to widespread misgiving, even among 
its own rank and file.'’ Besides, he believed, the military 
prospects of the country would be seriously impaired if the 
Congress gained power. He finally hoped the President would 
dissuade Chiang Kai-shek “from his completely misinformed 
activities,” and lend no countenance to putting pressure upon 
the British Government. 

The President, however, felt, at any rate at that stage, 
that he could not go as far as restraining Chiang Kai-shek from 
interfering in Indian affairs, though he conceded that “the 
British Government must deal with the situation themselves.” 
In an interview with R. Campbell, Minister, British Embassy 
in Washington, on 2 August 1942, he said that “it would always 
be open to himself and Chiang Kai-shek, if the situation should 
later make it appear desirable and opportune, to offer their 
good offices.” Roosevelt clearly stated that he was not pre- 
pared to discourage Chiang Kai-shek from attempting to inter- 
vene on India. Roosevelts position was to undergo a 
significant change, in favour of Britain, after the arrest of the 
Congress leaders. 

The British Government did not disclose anything to 
China about its contemplated action against the Congress. It 
was decided that Chiang should be informed only after neces- 
sary action against the Congress had been taken.®^ It was on 
11 August 1942 that the British Ambassador called on him to 
explain the British policy vis-a-vh the Congress. Expressing 

28. Ibtd, 

29. Prime Minister (Churchill) to President (Roesevelt), 3| July 1942, 
/6W.. p. 533. 

30. R. Campbell to Eden, 5 August 1942. ibid , p. 573. 

31. Eden to H. Seymour, 7 August 1942, ibid., p. 612. 



deep concern at the turn of events in India, Chiang Kai-shek 
told the Ambassador that the sudden arrest of the Congress 
leaders had barred a peaceful solution of the Indian problem. 
He did not agree with the British viewpoint thai what was 
taking place in India was a Japanese inspired movement, and 
aflSrmed : “The present development is a natural reaction from 
the arrest of some of the leaders of the Congress. It is true 
that it impedes the war progress, but thus far I believe that the 
movement is still nationalistic and not under Japanese influence 
if the psychology of the Indian people is carefully studied.” He 
also told the Ambassador that he had sent messages to Gandhi, 
Nehru and Azad ; and his wife (Madame Chiang) too had sent 
messages to Sarojini Naidu and Vijayalakshmi Pandit. He 
further asked that the Ambassador should request the Viceroy 
to allow his Resident Commissioner in New Delhi, Sheng Shoh- 
hua, to deliver the messages fo the Congress leaders in person 
and to see Nehru individually “to ascertain his (Nehru’s) true 
reaction to the present situation.’ 

Immediately after his interview, Chiang Kai-shek sent a 
cable to President Roosevelt on 12 August, saying^® : 

At all costs the United Nations should demonstrate to 
the world by their action the sincerity of their professed 
principle of ensuring freedom and justice for men of all 
races. I earnestly appeal to you as the inspired author of 
the Atlantic Charter to take (effective query) measures 
which undoubtedly have already occurred to you to solve 
the pressing problem now facing India and the world... 
Your policy will serve as a guide to all of us who have 
resisted for so long and so bitterly the brute force of 
the aggressors. 

This time also President Roosevelt passed the Chinese 
leader’s message on to Churchill, adding his own query : “What 
do you think ?’’•* 

32. Horace Seymour, British Ambaffador called on Chirrg Kai-shrk on 
11 August 1942. ibi ^ , pp. 676-8- 

33. President (Roosevelt) to Prin.c Minister (Churchill), quotirg Chiang 
Kai-shek’s tetter, 12 August 1942, ibid., p, o72. 

34. president (Roosc\eJt) to Piin e Minister (ChujchiJl), 12 Aviisl 1S42, 



Amery, who was quite aware of these moves of Chiang 
Kai-shek, asked Churchill on the same day ; “Most earnestly 
hope you will dissuade President (Roosevelt) in strongest terms 
from paying any attention to Generalissimo’s mischievous 
and ignorant intervention... All the talk of Congress 
leaders wishing freedom for the sake of helping Allies is 
insincere eyewash.”®^ 

No such effort on Churchill’s part was really necessary. 
On the day that Amery sent his note to Churchill,^^’ Roosevelt 
told the Pacific Council Meeting that he and Chiang Kai-shek 
had been corresponding on the Indian situation, and that he 
felt sure that they saw eye to eye on the ultimate objective. He, 
however, added that he had explained to Chiang Kai-shek “the 
hesitations he felt on the point of timing.” He even said that 
“frankly he did not think India was ready to-day for complete 
independence.” He further ^dded that as Great Britain was 
a great friend of China and the United States, so the latter 
could not tell the British Empire what it must or must not do 
nor could they say to it, “we will arbitrate in this thing for 
you.”^’ The President also wrote to Chiang Kai-shek the 
same day^® : 

1 told the Pacific War Council to-day. ..that I think your 
position and mine should be to make it clear to the 
British Government and to Mr. Gandhi and his followers 
that we have not the moral right to force ourselves upon 
the British or the Congress party ; but that we should 
make it clear to both sides that you and I stand in the 

35. Amery to Churchill, 12 August 1942, ibid., p. 674. 

36. Churchill sent a cable to Roosevelt the nexfday expressing bis strong 
resentment at the attitude of Chiang : “I take it amiss Chiang should 
seek to make difficulties between us and should interfere in matters 
about which he has proved himself most ill-informed which affect our 
sovereign rights... All Chiang’s talk of Congress leaders wishing us 
to quit in order that they may help the Allies is eye-wash.” 

Churchill to his Private OflRce, enclosing a message for President 
Roosevelt to be sent through the US Embassy, 13 August \942jbid , 
pp. 687-8. 

37. R. Campbell to Eden, 12 August 1942, ibid,, p. 675. 

38. President Roosevelt to Chiang Kai-shek, 12 August 1942, Foreign 
Relations of the United States 1942, VoL 1, The British Commonwealth 
and the Far East (Washington, I960), p. 716. 

39. Home Political File No. 3/21/42. 



position of friends who will gladly help if we arc called on 
by both sides. 

Linlithgow did not like the idea of the Chinese leader 
communicating with the arrested Congress leaders ; be jvas not 
ready to present “orchids” to Gandhi at that moment. The 
proposed interview of the Chinese Commissioner with the 
arrested Congress leaders was not permitted.®* Linlithgow 
believed that it was not advisable “to convey any messages of 
this type to any of the addressees and that it would be an 
intolerable situation and deeply resented in this country by 
very important elements were there to be any evidence what- 
ever of interference by China or any other outside power in 
our internal politics.” In a personal message to Chiang Kai- 
shek, he said : “But recent action of Congress has left my 
Government and me with no alternative but to enforce the 
machinery of the law, and I feaf that I could not agree to allow 
any communication to any of the leaders whom you have 
mentioned who are under restraint for illegal activities.”^® 

Supporting Linlithgow, Amery happily wrote : “Whole- 
heartedly approve your firm handling of Chiang Kai-shek’s 
impertinent interference. Amery expressed bis displeasure 
to Chiang Kai-shek for his attempts at communicating directly 
with the Congress leaders as well as for issuing pro-Congress 
public statements in China. Amery added a sting which was 
bound to reach home by reminding the Chinese leader : 
“Present Chinese action is in marked contrast with attitude 
adopted by His Majesty’s Government last year at the time 
when Communist- Kuomintang differences were most acute 
Churchill also sent gentle admonition to Chiang Kai-shek on 
27 August 1942*® : 

I think the best rule for Allies to follow is not to inter- 
fere in each other’s internal affairs. We are resolved in 
every way to respect the sovereign rights of China... 

40. Linlithgow to H. Seymour, 14 August 1942, Mansergh, n. 5, vol. 2. 
p. 695. 

41. Amery to Linlithgow, 16 August 1942, ibid., p. 732. 

42. Secretary of State to Government of India, External Affairs Depart- 
ment. 19 August 1942, ibid, pp. 757-8. 

43. Amery to Linlithgow, 27 August 1942, quoting Prime Minister's 
message to Chiang Kai-sbek, 27 August 1942, ibid,, pp. 830-2. 

impact in INDU AND ABROAD 


With regard to the suggestion which Your Excellency 
has made that His Majesty’s Government should accept 
the mediation of the President of the United States 
regarding their relations with the Indian Congress and 
generally with India, I should like to place on record the 
fact that no British Government of which I am the head, 
or a member, will ever be prepared to accept such media- 
tion on a matter affecting the sovereign rights of His 
Majesty the King Emperor. 

Chiang Kai-shek realized his helplessness vis^a^vis the 
British Government which was determined not to budge an 
inch. In a conciliatory mood he wrote to the Viceroy, on 26 
September 1942, that his sole motive in suggesting that the 
Chinese Commissioner in India should interview the Congress 
leaders was the hope that thereby a modus vivendi would be 
more quickly arrived at. His one desire, he stressed, was to 
bring India wholeheartedly into the war, which outweighed 
every other consideration 

Like the Chinese leader, the Chinese press also showed 
great concern with the Indian political situation. The official 
Central Daily News appealed to the British Indian Government 
to exercise forbearance and continue to look for a real settle* 
ment. The Ta-King Pao emphasised that ‘'India’s struggle for 
freedom is identical with the war aims of the United Nations 
and we have no reason not to be sympathetic.”*^ Commenting 
on Gandhi’s fast, the same paper said : *‘The Indian nation 
has had the most calamities in the world. The fast is lament- 
able, but it is also due to this that the unification and indeden- 
dence of India is a gigantic task.”** 

44. Chiang Kai-shek to Linlithgow, 26 September 1942, /Wi/., vol.3, 
p. 43, H. Seymour, the British Ambassador in China, wrote to 
Anthony Eden on 30 April 1943 : •'...the views of Chiang Kai-shek 
and Madame Chiang Kai-shek on India are not likely to bo affected 
by any appeal to reason. But 1 think it quite possible that Chiang 
Kai sbek could be brought to see. by arguments suggested, that 
expression (grp. undec) views at present time presepts real dangers.” 
/W,p 933. 

45. Gandhi, n. 6, p. 65. 

46 . Ibid. p. 226 . 




American interest in India grew with the realisation that 
the safety and well being of thousands of AmericSn soldiers 
stationed in India, the security of their supply line to China, 
and preparations for a fresh attack on Burma, all required a 
peaceful and orderly India. After having been instrumental in 
the conception of the Cripps Mission, Americans changed their 
attitude and decided not to pressurize the British on the Indian 
issue. Indeed, they became progressively sympathetic to the 
British position. 

When the news of the Wardha resolution of the CWC 
(14 July 1942) reached America, the press there interpreted it as 
an unreasonable Congress demand for immediate total with- 
drawal of British power from India. To intensify American 
opinion against the Congress, Stafford Cripps made a special 
broadcast to the United States on 27 July 1942, in which he 
denounced Gandhi and appealed to the American people to 
support Britain’s efforts in “keeping India as a safe, orderly 
base for our joint operations agaiust the Japanese.” Stressing 
that Gandhi was opposed to the stationing of American troops 
in India, he observed^’ : 

We cannot allow the action of a visionary, however 
distiuguished in his fight for freedom in the past, to 
thwart the United Nations’ drive for victory in the East... 
Whatever steps are necessary to that end we must 
take fearlessly. 

I am sure that we in this country can rely on you to 
give us your understanding, your help and your support 
in doing whatever is necessary to maintain intact the 
front of the United Nations in India and to reopen the 
life-line of our gallant allies, the Chinese. 

Cripps’ broadcast made a favourable impact on the 
American press and public opinion. The Baltimore Sun, for 
example, assured Cripps to “have no worries about American 
support for the British stand in India” ; also sympathetic was 
the Christian Science Monitor,^^ Gandhi tried to convince the 

47. Mu.uhcsier Guardian, 27 July 1942. 

48. M S. VenVatoramani and B.K, Shrivastava, “America aod the Indian 


Atnericaas and the Chinese that he had no pro-Axis sentiments, 
and published an “open letter” to the Japanese in the Harijun 
aflSrming his determination to oppose them if they advanced 
into India. Instead of creating a favourable opinion, the move 
acted as a boomerang in America. The Washington Post 
characterized Gandhi’s statement as “meaningless if not down- 
right hypocritical.” The U.S. papers appealed to Gandhi to 
rally his people “against the foes of civilization, instead ol 
planning with holy invocations and professions of piety to stab 
the United Nations in the back.”^® 

Gandhi was naturally hurt by this “chorus of indigualion 
from Great Britain and America.” He wrote an open letter 
“To American Friends” on 3 August 1942.^® The appeal fell 
flat. “There is no evidence to indicate that Roosevelt, HuJ 
and other leaders of America evinced at this or any other time, 
the slightest interest in Gandhiji’s writings in the HarijanS-^ 

On 5 August 1942, most of the leading American papers 
carried the story of the Allahabad papers, supported by the 
Government of India, giving the proceedings ol the CWC 
meeting in the last week of April 1942, together with Gandhi^s 
draft resolution. The Washington Post commented that the 
Indian nationali ts, by adopting this course “at this extremely 
critically moment”, had given “aid and comfort to the enemies 
of mankind.” The paper wrote further ; ‘They will brand 
themselves as traitors to civilization and by helping the enemies 
of freedom will make it abundantly clear that they do not merit 
the freedom they professedly seek.”^^ Another leading paper, 
the New York Times, commented^® : 

Yet the afiect of the proposed Congress resolution can 
only be to stab the United Nations in the back at the 
most critical hour of their struggle, and to bring into 

Political Crisis, July-August 1942**, International Studies (Bombay), 
vol. 6, no. 1, July 1964, pp, 16-7. 

49. Ibid, 

50 Harijan, 9 August 1942. The message was written on 3 August, but 
published on the day Gandhi wds arrested. 

51. Venkataramani and Shrlvastava, n. 48, p. 18. 

52r /6iV/.,p. 28. 

53. New York Times, 5 August 1942. The editorial was entitled “Con* 
fusion in India**. 



power over India a barbaric nation utterly without faith 
and without honour. 

American public opinion, was alarmed by this ^ddenturn 
in Indian politics. Without going deep into the merit of the 
case, it apprehended that Gandhi’s threat of organizing a mass 
movement at this juncture might give further impetus to the 
Japanese to invade India. The New York World Telegram 
struck a note of aggressive indifference by refusing to be per- 
turbed by the hara kiri of the “Hindu nationalist blackmailers.** 
The New York Herald Tribune condemned the attidude of the 
Congress leaders as a “dangerous appeal to disorder, division 
and defeatism in the face of an eager and waiting enemy.” 
Papers like the Baltimore Sun^ Washington Star and Philadelphia 
Inquirer assured full American support to the British Govern- 
ment and pleaded for the sternest measures against the Congress. 
The Christian Science Monitor described the struggle as “no 
longer one between India and the British but between 
the extreme elements in India and the entire family of the 
United Nations.”®* 

Understandably, perhaps, the American press had only 
one yardstick to measure every action of the British Government 
and of nationalist India : whether it would serve or hamper the 
Allied war effort. To keep the Indian scene favourable for 
war operations, it was indispensable that the political situation 
should be a settled one. 

When the A ICC met in Bombay to adopt the Quit India 
resolution, the Chicago Daily News jeered at the Congress as 
“one of the largest debating societies ever assembled.** The 
Washington Post warned that “if Britain bent its knee before the 
Indian National Congress it would be remiss in its duties to the 
United Nations.”®® The New York Times suggested that the 
American attitude in the dispute between Britain and India 
should be that of an “impartial jury.** After criticizing all the 
parties, fe,, the British Government, the Indian nationalists and 
the Muslim League, the paper couched the verdict of the “jury 
in moral terms : “Any decision, any compromise, which helps 

54. Venkataramani and Shrlvastava, n. 48, pp 29-30. 

For a survey of American press comments, see The Hindu^ 6 and 9 
August 1942 ; also The Statesman (Calcutta), 6 and 8 August 1942. 
35. lbid.^^.31. 

impact in rNDIA AND ABROAD 

with this war, and in winning it helps win freedom for all of us, 
India included, is good ; ...any decision, any compromise, 
which weakens the strength of the anti-Axis Powers is bad and 
evil.”®* Both New York Times and Christian Science Monitor 
were under the impression that the Congress was demanding 
wholesale British withdrawal from India. They believed that 
such an eventuality would lead to chaos and disorder in India,” 
There were some exceptions also. The Socialist Call of 
the Socialist Party of America, for example, extended whole- 
hearted support to the Indian nationalists. The New Republic 
called for a positive approach from the United States, and 
suggested a course of action similar to that advocated by 
Chiang Kai shek.®® 

The extraordinary situation that developed in India after 
the arrest of the Congress loaders forced the New York Times 
to realise the limits of coercion. While extending general 
support to Britain, it suggested that the latter, with the 
help of the United States or some others from the Allied 
camp, should do its utmost to settle the Indian question.®* 
The paper argued : “But the British Government, while it is 
continuing to enforce order, can also continue properly and 
profitably to explore the possibilities of a settlement which will 
prepare the people of India for full self-government and make 
them legal allies in the war.”®® 

But the Washington Post wrote, in a leading article, that 
“no tear will be wasted on Gandhi and those Indian leaders 
who like him would, in the name of freedom, destroy it.”®i 

After Churchill’s parliamentary speech of 10 September 
1942, the American press became less critical of the Indian 
nationalists’ stand. As L.S. Amery wrote to Linlithgow®* : 

I am afraid Winston’s statement has been a bad boome- 
rang ; at any rate in America, where it has undone almost 

56. New York Times, 1 August 1942. 

57. Venkataramani and Shrivastava, n. 48, p. 38. 

58. p 39 ; Nation (New york)t 8 August 1942 ; New Republic 
(New York), 3 August l942. 

59. New York Times, 1 1 August 1 942. 

60. /&/</., 23 August 1942. 

61^ Venkataramani and Shrivastava, n. 48, p. 46. 

61 Amery to Linlithgow, 5 Os:^tober 1942, Mansnrgh, m, 5, vol. X 98. 



all the good work that Gandhi had previously been doing 
for us... I don’t think he (Churchill) is capable of 
speaking sympathetically or with any conviction about 
Indian aspirations themselves, as apart from Congress and 
the difficulties of the immediate situation. 

The Nation found in this speech of “an unrepentant 
imperialist the declaration of war on the Indian National 
Congress. An important section of the U.S. press now began 
to advise the British Government to adopt a conciliatory policy 
in order to patch up its differences with nationalist India. There 
was also emerged a tendency to put the responsibility on the 
British Government for precipitating a crisis, “The trouble with 
a situation of this kind is that it rocks along and nothing is 
done until it is too late”, commented Raymond Clapper in the 
Washington Daily News ; a situation that could easily produce 
another Burma in India*^ The geo-political and strategic 
importance of India was emphasized ; and papers like the 
Washington Post suggested the mediation of the United Nations 
to solve the Indian problem.** 

The American journalists, who came to India to cover the 
war news, became such sympathizers of the Indian nationalist 
cause that one of them, Louis Fischer, was labelled by the 
British^ Government not only “a dangerous international 
revolutionary” but also an “unscrupulous and tiresome 
journalist”. His writings were severely censored in India.®* 
American intellectuals, not altogether devoid of information 
about the Indian situation, viewed the Quit India demand in 
an unfavourable light. In fact, on 5 August 1942, a group of 
them appealed to the AICC to postpone its demand for 
immediate independance. They opined that the adoption of 

the resolution would “alienate American opinion and harm the 

cause of India.”®® 




66 . 

Gandhi, n. 6, pp. 67-8. 

Washingtqn Post. 15 October 1942. 

Governor General to Secretary of State for India. 3 1 May and 6 June 
1943, Home Political File No. 33/19/43. 

Venkataramani and Shrivastava, n. 48, p. 39. The signatories to the 

Sachs, Christian Guass. 

Henry P. Van Deuien, Henry W. Hobson, and Walter Millis. Md. 


They tried to keep track of events in India after 9 August 
1942. Another group of intellectuals puplished a full-page 
advertisement in the New York Times^ urging President Roose- 
velt and Marshall Chiang Kai-shek to recognise the stake of 
the United Nations in the Indian dilemma, and asking them to 
use their good offices to arrange a conference of the interested 
Indian parties in order to facilitate India’s entry into the 
rank of the Allies by “beginning now a programme of her 

On the occasion of the second anniversary of the August 
rebellion over a hundred Americans, including educationists, 
columnists and Church and Labour leaders, addressed an appeal 
to Lord Halifax, the British Ambassador for its onward trans- 
mission to the British Government. The appeal said that mass 
imprisonments had only complicated the Indian problem and 
made it difficult for Indians to join whole-heartedly in the war 
for world freedom. “To allow even belated justice to these 
prisoners would do much towards restoring confidence among 
millions of Asia’s peoples.” Every member of the United 
Nations should face the fact that the continued imprisonment of 
India’s democratic leaders was an ever-present challenge to their 
professed war aims and a denial of those broad principles of 
human rights on which true civilization anywhere should be 
founded. “India’sfreedom is not India’s question alone. It is a 
question of human liberty. So long as suppression of justice is 
allowed to continue in India liberty is threatened everywhere in 
the world.”®® 

67. The signatories to this advertisement were : Clare Boothe, George 
S. Counts, Fanny Hurst, Bishop Francis J. McConnell and Henry 
Hariman ; Gandhi, n. 6, pp. 65-6. The editor of the Life magazine 
also published an open letter addressed to the people of England, 
urging that India should be made free. Life (New York), 8 November 

68. Some of the signatories to this appeal were Louis Broomfield, Pearl 
Buck, John Childs, Albert Einstein, Louis Fischer, John Gunther, 
Frank Kingdom, Max Lcrner, Clare Luce. Bishop Francis McComieh 
Dr. Reinhold Neibuhr, James Patton, Victor Reuther, Leland Stowe, 
Richard J. Walsh, Mathew Woll, Louis Adamic, Stuart Chase, Freda 
Kirchway, Upton Sinclair and William Shirer ; Home Political File 
NO. 4/6/44. 



But the Senate did not try to put any pressure on the 
President in regard to the Indian question. Nor did it interest 
the American political parties. Trade unions and qther labour 
organizations seemed to be equally unconcerned about it.®* 

Nevertheless, the spectre of a Japanese conquest of the 
Indian sub continent was haunting the minds of many American 
politicians and intellectuals. For this reason alone, many of 
them were insisting that America should not remain^ an in- 
different onlooker. Critising the American attitude, Wendell 
L. Willkie, the Republican Presidential candidate in 1940 wrote 
on the basis of first-hand experience that much as they would 
like to count on the U.S.A., the people of the East “cannot 
tell from our vague and vacillating talk whether or not we 
really do stand for freedom, or what we mean by freedom. 

Indian students in An^rica also helped in propgating news 
about the Indian National Congress. The India League 
engaged itself in publishing brochures, organizing lectures and 
disseminating Indian news among Americans. Anup Singh, K.J. 
Shridharani, H.T. Majumdar, J.J. Singh, Louis Fischer, 
Richard Gregg, J. Homes-Smith and Pearl Buck were some of 
the constant pro-Congress campaigners in the country. Apart 
from them the Institute of Pacific Relations and study groups 
like those of the Quakers and conscientious objectors also 
served as channels for Congress propaganda.’^ 

In order to counteract the Congress propaganda, the 
Government of India first published and distributed freely, 
Fiftv Facts About India in different parts of America. Later on 
it distributed The Congress Responsibility for the Disturbances in 
India 1942-43. These materials, it seemed, could not make 
much headway in influencing American public opinion. The 
British Government thought that its failure in propaganda was 
due to lack of American perspective and understanding of the 
whole situation. According to the British, the Americans 
minimised the importance of the minorities, and there lay the 
complexity of the whole situation. It was also emphasized that 

69. Venkataramani aod Shrivastava, o. 48, p. 39. 

70. Wendell L. Willkie, One World (Bombay, 1943). Indian edn., 
p. 131. 

71. Home Political File No. 20/2/43. 

many antUBritish centres in America were helping in carrying 
out Congress propaganda.^* 

Since early 1942, official circles in Wasjiington could 
realise that nationalist sentiment in India was hostile to Britain 
and somewhat critical of the United Nations, The United 
States made some attempts to appease the Indian nationalist 
sentiments. Just before the Quit India movement Franklin D. 
Roosevelt wrote a letter to Gandhi. This was, in fact, a reply 
to Gandhi’s letter of 1 July. The President eexpressed bis 
keenness to carry on the war effort, and invited Gandhi to join 
the venture : “1 shall hope that our common interest in 
democracy and righteousness will enable your countrymen and 
mine to make a common cause against a common enemy.”’* 
Though the President signed the letter on 1 August, it was 
despatched on 5 August, and cciild not reach Gandhi before 
his arrest. 

When the Quit India campaign began, there was no 
Personel Representative of the President in New Delhi. After 
the departure of Louis Johnson, the post had remained 
vacant for some time. However, the Officer-in-Charge and 
other members of the staff correctly assessed the situation 
and generally gave a correct picture of the situation to 
Washington. In these reports il was mentioned that the British 
Government’s repressive measures would have merely a 
temporary success and would only drive the movement under- 
ground. It was also assumed that the sudden arrest of Gandhi 
and other Congress leaders had turned a non-violent movement 
into a violent one.’* The American staff did not feel optimistic 
about the improvement of the situation in the immediate 
future. They believed that without a positive programme 
from the British, Indians would not be able to come to any 
political settlement.’® 

72. Report on American opinion, period from May 1942 — February 1943, 

73. Roosevelt to Gandhi, .1 August 1942, Foreign Relations of the United 
States 1942, n. 38. p. 703. 

74. Officer- in-Charge (Merrel) to Secretary of State (Cordell Hull), 
10 August 1942, ibid., p. 712. 

75. Officer-in-Charge (Haselton) to Secretary of State (Cordell Hull), 
5 September 1942, ibid., p. 731. 



Washington was quite aware of these new developments in 
India. The American press and a group of leftist intellectuals 
were putting pressure on President Roosevelt to intervene in 
India. He was also being pressed by Marshal Chiang Kai-shek 
to do something for the settlement of the Indian problem. 
Even President Avila Camacho of Mexico requested Roosevelt, 
“to join with the Soviet Government in oflfering mediation 
between the Indian National Congress and the British Govern- 
ment with a view to preventing great loss of life in India and 
with a view to further Indian independence.”’® 

But Washington did nothing of the sort. Instead, the 
Secretary of State, Cordell Hull met the British Ambassador 
Lord Halifax on 17 September 1942, and suggested to him the 
necessity of holding a conference of both sides (India and 
Britain), which might produceca most wholesome psychological 
effect on public opinion in other nations and in India as well.” 
The President was unwilling to go further than this. He did 
not like to be a partisan of either Great Britain or India’® : 

We can in a friendly spirit talk bluntly and earnestly to 
appropriate British officials so long as they understand 
that it is our purpose to treat them in a thoroughly friendly 
way. A settlement arising from such friendly and non-par- 
tisan conversations with both sides or witheither side, would 
probably be most practicable as well as most desirable. 

The State Department, which was for some time looking 
for a skillful diplomat to head the New Delhi Mission, finally 
decided to send William Phillips. The traumatic situation in 
India had also necessitated an immediate appointment. Both 
New Delhi and London welcomed Phillips’ appointment. After 
assuming his office, he reported that the Executive Councillors 
had no popular following, and that they represented only the 
voice of the Viceroy. They and the six hundred British Indian 
civil servants were interested in maintaining the status quo, 
because their livelihood depended on India.’® 

76. /6W..P.717. 

77. The Secretary of State’s Memorandum : Interview with the British 
Ambassador, 17 September 1942, ibid,, p. 734. 

78. Secretary of State’s Memorandum to US Ambassador in United 
Kingdom, 20 November 1942, ibid., p. 747. 

79. Personal Representative of the President in India (William Phillips), 



During Gandhi’s fast, as has been discussed earlier, Phillips 
had to bear the brunt of public pressure.®^* Phillips realized 
that it was a double-edged problem, Le,, (i) to pressure the 
so-called white prestige in India, and (ii) to safeguard India as 
a military base against Japan and ensure future American 
relations with all the coloured races.®^ It seems he was con- 
vinced by the Indian nationalist opinion, and wrote : “What- 
ever persuasion we can exercise over the British can be done 
better now than when the general scramble begins for post-war 
settlement Phillips saw that both Churchill and Linlithgow 
were disinterested in resolving the Indian deadlock. As the 
war approached its end and their power tended to increase, the 
British seemed reluctant to come to some understanding with 
the Indian nationalist aspirations. With a view to ending the 
political impasse, Phillips suggested a plan to President Roosevelt 
according to which the CogrJss leaders would be released 
immediately to allow them to participate in a conference pre- 
sided over by an American, and patronized by the King- 
Emperor, the President of the United States, the President of 
Soviet Union and Chiang Kai-shek of China. “American 
chairmanship”, he said, “would have the advantage, not only 
of expressing the interest of America in the future independence 
of India, but would also be a guarantee to the Indians of British 
offer of independence.”®® But he was overestimating American 
influence over Britain. 

The unyielding attitude of the British was revealed by the 
refusal to allow a group of moderate leaders to interview 


81 . 

82 . 

83 . 

to Secretary of State (C Hull). 8 January 1943. ibid., vol, 4. 1943, 
PP. 181-2. 

•Tt is becoming more and more evident through press, leading 
artides and personal appeals that good officers of some sort by the 

United States are looked for and that my silence is being unfavour- 
ably commented upon.” Personal Represenfative of the President 
in India (William Phillips) to Secretary of Stale (C Hull), 12 Feb- 

ruary 1943, /W , pp. 191-2. . , X 

Personal Reprcseniative of the President in India (William Phillips) 
to Secretary of State fC. Hull), 19 February 1943. ibid., pp. 196-7. 

Pcrsoual Representative of the President in India (William Phillips) 

to President, 23 February 1943, ibirf.. p. »3. 

Personal Representative of the President m India (William Phillips) to 
President, 3 March 1943, ibid., p. 207. 



Gandhi. It further convinced Phillips that the Viceroy 
had no desire to see the deadlock ended.‘* Phillips himself 
made an attempt to secure the Viceroy’s permission to interview 
Gandhi and Nehru in order to acquire a first hand Imowledge 
of the Congress position.*’ He also met with a curt refusal 
from the Viceroy. 

Phillips was disappointed. He felt that his assessment of 
the situation without a meeting with the Congress leaders was 
bound to be one-sided and incomplete. Afraid that Indians 
were convinced that “America stands solidly with the British in 
the past, present and future Indian policies of the British 
Goverment,” Phillips appealed to his President, “to try with 
every means in our power to make Indians feel that America is 
with them and in a position to go beyond mere publicassurances 
of friendship.”** 

Some of the officers of thb State Department in Washington 
responded favourably to these ideas. They felt that Americans 
were morally found by the Atlantic charter to support the 
Indian cause. An official in the Department wrote : “I think 
we would be in a very vulnerable position in the future if we 
adopt an overcautious attitude in situations of this kind merely 
because we fear that the British might not like it.” He feared 
that the tide of Asian opinion would turn against America if it 
did not do anything on the Indian question.®’ 

These were but minor chinks in the solid pro-British 
phalanx in the State Department. The American policy remained 
unchanged. Washington remained silent and did absolutely 
nothing on the question of Phillips’ interview with the Congress 
leaders. Rather, it held the view that Phillips’ proposed visit 
to Gandhi might arouse such “unjustified hopes” in India as 
the expectation of American intervention.** 

Phillips did not give up his efforts to end the political im- 
passe in India. From the very beginning of his diplomatic career in 

84. Personal Representative of the President in India (William Phillips) to 
Secretary of State (C. Hull), 2 April 1943, ibid., p. 210. 

85. fhiVf , p. 212. 

86. Personal Representative of the President in India (William Phillips) 
to President, 19 April 1943, ibid., pp. 217-9. 

87. Memorandum by Adviser on Political Relations to Under Secretary of 
- State, 6 April 1943, ibid., p, 213. 

88. Gandhi, n. 6, pp. 240-1. 



India, he had believed that he had a mission to perform in 
India. He was confident that a definite advance, possibly a 
settlement with nationalist India, could be reached — probably 
in the direction of the establishment of a provisional Govern- 
ment “ Till the time of his departure, Phillips went on pressing 
Linlithgow to arrive at some interim solution of the Indian 
problem. Any transitory solution, he believed, would justify 
his mission in India, and would improve the President’s position 
in America. But Linlithgow was "entirely clear that we must 
stand firm and not compromise ourselves and the future in the 
hope of buying off well-intentioned, but irresponsible and 
uninformed, criticism in the U S.A. or elsewhere.’’*® When the 
news came that Phillips was not returning to India soon, 
Linlithgow felt immensely happy. He told Amcry that he was 
pretty clear, in the light of experience with both Phillips 
and Johnson that "the dangers of having a personal represen 
tative of the President in India greatly outweight any 
possible advantages. ’’*1 

Phillips was not inactive in the United States. QQ H May 
1943, he wrote to Roosevelt** : 

If we do nothing and merely accept the British point of 
view that conditions in India are none of our business then 
we must be prepared for various serious consequences in 
the internal situation in India which may develop as a 
result of despair and misery and anti white sentiments of 
hundereds of millions of subject people. ..Such a British 
gesture, Mr, President, will produce not only a tre- 
mendous psychological stimulus to Sagging morale through 
Asia and facilitate our military operations in that theatre, 
but it will also be proof positive to all people— our own 
and the British included— that this is not a war of power 
politics but a war for all we say it is, 

89. Linlithgow to Amery, 28 January 1943, Manscrgh, n. 5, vol. 3 
pp. 554-5. 

90. Linlithgow to Amery, 26 April 1943, Ibid., p. 911. 

91. Linlithgow to Amery, 2 June 1943, Ibid,, p. 1037. 

92. William Phillips* (Personal Representative of (he President in India) 
Report to the Presi.lent, 14 May 1943, Foreign Relatione of the 
United States 1943, n. 38, vol. 4. p. 222. 



Phillips pleaded in vain. The Governments in London as 
also in New Delhi were keeping close track of the American 
attitude towards the Indian problem. Both Amery and 
Linlithgow viewed pro-Indian American feelings as “American 
sentimentalism” which had been aroused by “total ignorance of 
the problem.”®^ Lord Halifax, the British Ambassador in 
Washington, observed : “My own temper is often sorely tried 
by the ignorance amongst our friends even in high quarters... 
And to this must always be added even less informed criticism 
some of which unconsciously derives I suspect from German 
promptings.”®^ The British were unhappy that American 
presence in India and British reliance on American war supplies 
gave the Americans an opportunity “to put the screw on Great 
Britain.”®^ There was no doubt that President Roosevelt was 
under immense pressure from diflferent quarters to intervene.®® 
It was generally assumed^ that Madame Chiang Kai-shek and 
Mr. Roosevelt were also behind these pressures.®’ 

The general American opinion on the question of American 
intervention was best expressed by an ordinary American 
citizen. Writing from California to a friend in India on 
23 October 1942, he said®® : 

I think the Indians are waiting for the U.S.A. to solve 
their problems and before this war is over I believe we 
will have a hand in the affairs of India as well as all other 
parts of the globe. It looks like we will have to police the 
world, England can never do it and seems to be waiting 
for someone else to fight her battles for her. She will 
find out we are ready and we would not stop until our 
armies, ship and planes are based all over the world. 

93. Amery to Linlithgow, Richard Law’s report on the United States 
Mansergh, n 5, vol. 3, p. 254. Linlithgow to Amery, 10 October 
1942, mL, p. 123. 

94. Halifax (Washington) to Linlithgow, 25 September 1942, ibid., 
p. 42. 

95. Note by Patrick, India Office, London, 24 September 1942, ibid., 
p. 30. 

96. Anthony Eden to Amery, 23 September 1942, ibid., p. 28. 

97. Amery to Linlithgow, 19 February 1943, ibid., pp. 698-9. 

98. N.N. Richardson of California, U.S.A., 23 September 1942, Home 
Political File No. 20/2/43. 


20 » 

American official policy continued to be indecisive through- 
out this period. It could not acquire clarity owing to the 
anxiety of the U S. Government not to bedevil Anglo-American 
relations for the sake of India. The Americans could do nothing 
concrete to relax political tensions in India. The general 
American attitude, however, was not entirely without significance 
for the future. 


Unlike in China and America, the Quit India movement 
produced only faint echoes in the Soviet Union. It is a well 
known fact that the Indian question till the other day was 
occupying an important position in the Communist Inter- 
national’s thinking as well as in the Soviet foreign policy 
perspective. The lack of Soviet interest in India in 1942 was due 
not to any shifting of emphasis in its long-term foreign policy 
objective, but to the fact that the Soviet people were then 
engaged in a life and death struggle and had hardly any time to 
think about other matters. On top of it, the recent military 
pact (12 July 1941) that the Soviets had concluded with Great 
Britain had also restrained the Soviet press and the public from 
criticizing British colonial policy. There was also the fact that 
a part of British assistance was reaching the Soviet Union from 
India. In particular Britain was supplying considerable non- 
lethal materials to the Soviet Union from India.” At one time 
there was even some discussion about permitting a Soviet 
representative to stay in India to facilitate the supply work 

Indeed, Soviet policy was so much war- oriented that 
instead of supporting Indian aspirations, it remained preoccupied the full utilization of India’s war potentialities, resources, 
and organization.’” The Soviet press did not publish any 
importani article on India during this time. A recent study 
points out““ : 

99. The Times, 10 June 19*3. 

100. Zafar Imam, Colonialism In East- West Relations ; A Study of Soviet 
Policy Towards India and Anglo'Soviet Relations 1917-47 (New Delhi, 
1969), p. 446. 

101. Ibid. 

102. Ibid., p. 449. 



It is interesting to note that during 1941-1942, Pravda 
consistently and correctly reported the important speeches 
of Churchill on India, including his outright denunciation 
of the Indian National Congress and other .political 
parties... But Pravda generally ignored the* delibera- 
tions of the Working Committee of the Indian National 
Congress (including the Quit India resolution) ; although 
when it did report these, it gave prominence to that part 
of the Indian National Congress resolutions which 
expressed readiness to participate in the war. On the 
other hand, it completely ignored the explosive situation 
in India during the Quit India movement. 

Towards the end of the year 1942, however, an article 
entitled “The Situation in India” written by S. Melman appeared 
in the oflScial organ of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, World 
Economy and World Politics, described the events leading to 
the Quit India movement, the movement itself and its 
suppression by the Government It appreciated the role 
of the Communist Party of India and praised its efforts to 
step up production and war mobilization. The author felt 
that the time was not yet opportune for Britain to 
open negotiations with the Congress. He believed that the 
Congress could not claim to be the sole representative of India. 
In an indirect way, however, the author admitted that political 
deadlock must be resolved for making possible the fullest 
mobilization of India’s resources. “The question of participa- 
tion of India is of great significance. Hence the regularization 
of Anglo-Indian relations is of great importance at the 
present time.”io^ 

Stalin certainly was not totally oblivious of the fact that 
the Soviet Union would have to support the liberation move- 
ments in the colonies against the imperialist forces. In course 
of his speech at the twenty-fifth anniversary of the October 
Revolution, on 6 November 1942, he said that the programme 
of action of the Anglo-Soviet-American coalition was .-abolition 
of racial exculsiveness ; equality of nations and integrity of their 

103. /^W., p. 451. On 1 August 1943, the same paper, World Economy 
and World Politics, urged India to mobilize ail her resources to meet 
the Japanese invasion. David N. Drube, Soviet Russia and Indian 
Communism 1917-1947 (New York, 1959), p. 237, 



territories ; liberation of the enslaved nations and the restora- 
tion of their sovereign rights ; the right of every nation to 
manage its affairs in its own vvay ; economic aid to nations that 
had suffered, and assistance in establishing their material 
welfare ; restoration of democratic liberties and destruction of 
the Hitlarite regime. 

After 1942, Soviet interest in India further diminished. 
May be, all the Allied powers were now busy taking steps to 
conclude the war successfully and within the shortest possible 
time. It could well be imagined that Stalin was convinced by 
Churchill’s logic that the maintenance of the status quo in 
British India was one of the prerequisites for bringingthe war to 
a successful and timely end. President Roosevelt also lent 
support to this view.^®^ 


The “Quit India” call and the subsequent trend of 
nationlist politics upset many Britons, including some of 
Gandhi’s friends and admirers. The Times reacted very sharply 
to the Wardha resolution of the CWC^®® : 

Civil disobedience has brougt India no profit in the past 
and can yield nothing now, except temporary disorder 
and worse internal divisions. It is a threat which is, in 

104, Joseph Stahn, The Great Patriotic War of the Soviet Union 
York. 1945;, p. 65. 

Commeniing on the attitude of the Russian people towards India, 
Nehru says : “What those in authorit'-, or people generally, in 
Russia thought about India it was impossible to say. They were far 
too busy wi h their stupendous war effort, and with driving the 
invader from their country, to think of matters of no immediate con- 
cern to them. Yet they were used to thinking lar ahead and they 
were not likely to ignore India which touched their frontiers in Asia. 
What their future policy would be no one could say, except that it 
would be realistic and principally concerned with adding to the 
political and economic strength of the U S S R.** While noting that 
they had '^carefully avoided all reference to India, “ he quoted the 
passage from Stalin’s speech of 6 November 1942, which has been 
given above. 

JawaharLiI Nehru. The Discovery of India (Bombay^ 1969), p. 492. 

105. Imam. n. 100, p. 453. 

106. The Times, 15 July 1942. 



fact, directed against the war effort and the security of 
India and the purposes of the United Nations, No dis- 
claimer can vary this inevitable truth. The real tragedy 
today, more vividiy seen than ever against the background 
of a world upheaval, is that Mr. Gandhi’s great hold upon 
the Indian people should have been perverted to this 
game of political tactics. 

Reverting to the subject on 3 August, the Times reminded 
the British Government that India’s potentialities as the greatest 
power in South East Asia made her “an indispensable factor in 
any plans for the protection of that area against aggression.” 
The paper pleaded for mutual understanding of the problem 
and emphasized that questions of personal, sectional or national 
prestige should not come in the way.^®’ 

When the Congress moved to ratify the Quit India resolu- 
tion on 8 August 1942. the* Times commented : “It is a 
startling commentary not on the sincerity, but on the sense of 
reality and proportion of the Congress leaders.” It termed the 
Congress call for non-violent action as a “declaration of war 
against Britain,” and stressed the need for Britain to fulfill two 
important responsibilities in India : to organize the military 
defence, and to build up the structure of Indian unity.^®* 
Supporting the Government’s action against the Congress 
leaders and the organization, the Times wrote : ‘'Once the 
decision to act had been taken, the Government had no option 
but to act vigorously and effectively and this it has done.” At 
the same time, it advised that while standing resolutely against 
“a policy of disorder and disruption,” the Government should 
work towards the attainment of a national self* Government ; 
repression, unaccompanied by any constructive policy, was 
likely to prove as vain and ineffective in war as in peace.^®® 

The Manchester Guardian warned that the Wardba resolu- 
tion promised “a barren victory whoever wins.” Confident that 
independence would come to India in “a short few years’ time,” 
the paper advised the Congress leaders to abandon the path of 
agitational politics and trust the British Government, 

107. Ibid., 3 August 1942. 

108. Ibid,, 10 August 1942. 

109. 12 August 1942, 

Impact in in5ia and abroad iU 

To ensure such a peaceful passage, the Guardi m appealed 
to the Viceroy to convene a conference to discuss the formation 
of a National Government with Indian representatives.^^® It 
also made it clear that Amery could not evade his responsibility 
by saying that “we have done all in our power.” Both the 
Government and the Congress had to be more amenable to reason 
and alive to their responsibilites than they had hitherto been.'^i 
In this connection the British had to realise that no “sense of 
our dignity, no conviction of our own good motives, no resent- 
ment at the irresponsibility of Congress should prevent us from 
joining with all whom we can call in aid to help us to a settle- 
ment.”ii^ Mere implementation of a drastic policy would 
engender formidable bitterness. “We cannot indefinitely keep 
tens of thousands of Hindus in prison,” warned the Guardian, 
“some day we shall have to maike our peace with them if peace 
there is to be.”^i® 

Even papers representing left wing opinion, like the 
New Statesman and Nation and Daily Herald, were critical of 
the Congress resolution. However, they also pleaded for a 
settlement with the Indians, if necessary with the help of the 
Chinese and the Americans.^'* 

The Daily Herald, the Labour party organ, asked the 
Congress not to press its demands at that moment : “You will 
cripple your cause and humble the influence of us who are your 
proud and faithful advocates. At the same time it 
impressed upon Churchill the prudence of getting rid of bis 
“fatalistic state of mind” towards the Indian problem. 
Criticising the British policy of “asserting authority but shirking 
leadership,” it emphasized that the time was not only ripe but 
overripe for a new initiative. India was asking Britain to do 
her duty as the Paramount Power. “However great the diflS- 

110. Manchester Guardian, 17 July 1942, 

111. Ibid., 1 August 1942. 

112. Ibid., 4 August 1942. 

113. Ibid., 10 August 1942. 

114. Ibid., 13 August 19t2. 

115. /6/V/., 26 February 1943, 

116. Ne^ Statesman and l^atlan, 25 J uly 1942. 

117. Daily Herald, 2\ July 1942. 



culties, however remote the prospect of success, the Govern- 
ment should respond to that desire.”^!® 

Another left-wing paper, the News Chronicle, observed : 
“Both Britain and India desire in their mutual interest the 
victory of the United Nations and defeat of the aggressors. 
Cannot both sides even now if occassion be created, rise to the 
full heights of their greatness and determine on an agreement 

Gradually, the Chronicle became progressively critical of 
the British stand. On 18 March 1943, it commented : “Only 
the imperialists of the worst kind can contemplate an indefinite 
continuance of the present deadlock and of our present refusal 
to allow discussions with and with among the prisoners. 

The Conservative press was vehemently critical of the 
whole movement. “We cannqt abandon,’* the Sunday Express 
commented, “the Indian Empire to the non violent Hindus or 
savage Japan. The Daily Mail branded the Congress 
demand as “definitely Quisling in intention,*’ and asserted that 
by launching a mass movement, the Congress would play at the 
hands of the encmies.i^Q Using history to fortify its advice 
to the Government, the Mail wrote : “We are paying for our 
past weakness... From now onward we should rulc.”i*^ 

The Spectator also pleaded for strong action ^22 . 

No terms can be made with rebellion, there can be no 
negotiation with Mr. Gandhi and Mr. Nehru, nor of 
course, as Sir StafiFord Cripps emphasized repeatedly, can 
there be any question of a major constitutional change, 
such as the grant of immediate independence would in- 
volve, in the middle of the war. 

The general tenor of the British press reaction elated the 
Government of India, The Information Department reported 

118. /6W.. 9 October 1942. 

119. News Chronicle, 1 October 1942. 

120. Ibid,, 18 March 1943. 

121. Sunday Express,\{^ August 1942. 

122. Daily Mail, 4 August 1942. 

123. 10 August 1942. 

124. Spectator, 14 August 1942; article entitled “India’s Opportunity/ 
pp, 143-4. 


with obvious glee that ‘^public opinion in England is angry, a 
very rare phenomenon and incidentally in the present circum* 
stances a sign that His Majesty’s Government’s policy is 
believed to be honest and fair to India.”^^3 But the elation 
contained a touch of concern. Both the Government of India 
and India OfHce in London were worried by the critical stand 
of the Times. Amery complained that its editor, Barrington 
Ward, was “under the baneful influence of E.H. Carr.”^^^ 
Unlike his predecessor. Ward never visited the India Office for 
consultation. Nor did he confer with Amery. Whatever 
the reason for the critical attitude of the Times, from the view- 
point of the Government it was “a real tragedy, given its 
importance, that it should show this tendency to go against us : 
for whether it talks nonsense or not, it carries very great weight 
and its hostility is as important aj its support.”^*® 

Some minor interest groups, such as the British Council 
of Churches, the India League, India Corxihation Group, 
Women’s International League, National Council of Civil 
Liberty and the Communist Parly of Great Britain, also pleaded 
for the settlement of the Indian problem. The India League 
under the active leadership of V.K, Krishna Meuon helped in 
broadcasting the Congress ideas in Britain. By publishing and 
distributing propaganda literature and organizing lecture-tours, 
it created a good deal of public sympathy for the Congress 
cause. It also enlisted the active support of some Labour 
M.P.s like Reginald Sorensen and Pethick Lawrence. Further- 
more, the National Peace Council, the Society of Friends, and 
the Council for International Recognition of Indian Indepen- 
dence backed the demand for Indian independence.'^ Many 

125. F.H. Puckic’s (Secretary, Departmeot of Information and Broad- 
casting) report. Home Political File No. 3/101/42. 

126. Amery to Linlithgow, 9 October 1942, Mansergh, n. 5, vol. 3, p. 114. 

127. Amery to Linlithgow, 13 October, 1942, ibid., p. 126. 

128. Linlithgow to Amery, 30 November 1942, ibid., p. 324. 

129. Gandhi, n. 6. pp* 212-5. 

130. The National Peace Council sent a cable to Linlithgow on 26 
December 1942, urging him to make a fresh effort to end the Indian 
deadlock. The following persons signed the cable : Sir Arthur 
Eddington, the Bishop of Bicmingbam, Dr. E. W. Barnes, the Chjef 



British missionaries and leftist intellectuals like Harold Laski, 
C.E M. load and Julian Huxley, too. supported the Indian 
cause. On behalf of the Union of Democratic Control, they 
sent messages to Indian leaders like Rajagopa'achari, 
M. R. Jayakar and others for their success in their 
conciliatory moves.^^g 

The attitude of the British Parliament, however, was 
different. The House of Commons discussed the Indian situa- 
tion on 11 September 1942. Very few members took part in 
the debate, and only three of them made a strong cri»icism of 
the Government's policy.^®® On 8 October 1942, when James 
Maxton introduced a motion that Amery should open negotia- 
tions for settlement with India, it was lost by 360 votes to 17.“^ 
Only a few Independents, Liberals and independent Labour 
party members criticized the Government’s policy. The White- 
hall was deeply absorbed with the war issue. It had little to 
discuss the Indian situation. The Labour party, now a partner 
in the coalition Government, was morally committed to support 
the official policy. The British Labour Party and the Trade 
Union Congress in a joint statement on 12 August declared'*® : 
The Labour Movement believes that the establishment 
of a free India in the post war world is secure and is not 
endangered by any possibility of evasion or procrastination 
by the British Government. The world knows that there is 
now agreement on the principle of Indian freedom... 

Rabbi, Dr. J H. Hertr, Lady Parmoorand Ihe Dean of Canterbury, 
Dr. Hewlett Johnson. Ibid., pp. 83, 84. 

William Cove, the Chairman of the Council for International 
Recognition of Indian Independence in a statement on 12 September 
1943 said : '‘The Council emphasized that Indian independence is a 
world issue and one upon which it is incumbent to secure the guarantee 
of Allied nations.” Ibid , p. 267. 

131. Others who signed the cable were : Lords Morlcy and Slrabolgi, C.G- 
Ammon, E J. Bcllenger, J J. Davidson, O, Haden Guest. Dame 
Elizabeth Cadbury, Mrs. Corbett Ash'iy, Mrs. Pothick Lawrence, 
Barbara Eyrton Gould, Dr. Hewlett Jobn:oa, Sir John Maynard and 
Prof. C H. Reill. W/d,p.69. 

132. UK, Commons, Parliamentary Debatev, series 5, vol. 383, session 
1942, cols. 553-627. 

133. Ibid., vol. 386. 

134. Manchester Guardian, 13 AugoatWl, 


The Labour party’s disapproval of the Quit India move- 
ment was further revealed by Arthur Greenwood, the Labour 
party leader, who commented : “Mahatma Gandhi appears to 
be utterly oblivious of the urgency and gravity of the world 
situation. With great respect to him, I must say that he has 

shirked major issues. “^33 

Winston Churchill, the Conservative party leader and 
Prime Minister, who had dubbed the Congress an organization 
of lawyers, money-lenders and Hindu priesthood, further ex- 
pressed his determination not to preside over the liquidation of 
the British Empire. He along with Amery and Linlithgow 
formed a diehard conservative triumvirate which was committed 
to a policy of non-conciliation with the Congress. Many 
leaders of the Allied countries pleaded in vain with Churchill 
to soften his attitude. Even a* former adversary of Gandhi, 
Field Marshal Smuts of South Africa, who expected civil dis- 
obedience to peter out within no time, considered it impolitic 
to keep leaders interned without making another move towards 
settlement. He was afraid “that it would be dangerous both 
from the point of view of general world opinion and that of 
internal Indian peace to sit tight after civil disobedience has 

finally collapsed. "^34 

But the mounting tide of Indian nationalism was begin- 
ning to make dents even in the conservative stronghold, more 
so as international opinion also was at least partially sympathe- 
tic to the Indian cause. Consequently no other person than 
Amery had to confess : “The idea that we shall be able to 
hang on indefinitely against the growing tide of Indian 
nationalism seems to me out of the question, even if there were 
a united public opinion here to support it *'^3® He went further 
and said : “It is Indian nationalism and not Indian pseudo- 
democracy that somehow or other we have got to meet.”^® 

Here was the dawn of a new consciousness within the die- 
hard sections of the Conservative party. If this was true of the 

135. Arthur Greenwood's “statement, 16 August 1942, N.N. Mitra (t*d ), 
The Indian Annual Register (Calcutta, n d.), vol. 2, 1942, p. 20. 

136. Field Marshal Smuts to Amery, 1 September 1942, Mansergh, n. 5, 
vol 2 (London, 1971), pp. 877-8, 

137. Amery to Linlithgow, 13 November 1942, ibid 3, p. 251. 

138. Amery to Linlithgow, 8 February 1943, ibid., p. 637. 



diehard elements of the Conservative party, the trend of thinking 
among other sections of British public life can be easily 
imagined. The Quit India movement could legitimaiely claim 
some measure of credit for the emergence of this trend. This, 
indeed, constitutes one of the more significant aspects of the 
impact of that movement. 



'T'HERE seems, in retrospect, to tiave been an air of inevita- 
bility about the Quit India movement. Once the Second 
World War liad broken out, it was certain that the British 
would make India contribute the maximum in men and material 
to their war effort. Also certain was that the Indian National 
Congress would link India’s participation in the war with her 
march towards independence. 

Apparently there was no irreconcilability between the 
British and the Indian positions. Theoretically speaking, India 
might well have willingly joined the Allied camp, and also 
moved towards independence. What made the two positions 
diametrical was the natural urge of nationalism to race towards 
freedom, and the equally natural tendency of imperialism to 
delay its own demise. Moreover, the climate of suspicion, 
endemic in such a relationship, was unlikely to encourage either 
party to trust the post-dated promises of the other. The British 
seemed none too keen to take at their face value the Congress 
assurances that self-dependent India would contribute generously 
to the Allied war effort ; and Indians looked in vain for reasons 
to feel satisfied with British promises of independence after the 
war, especially as the memory of British behaviour after the 
First World War was still fresh and far from reassuring. 

The political situation resembled a blind alley. The 
Congress was prepared to commit India to the Allied cause ; 
but only after its demand for India’s independence had been 
conceded. The British, similarly, were prepared to enlarge the 



area of responsible government in India and even promise 
independence after the war ; but during the war ultimate 
British control must continue Conflicting interests and 
mutual fears confined to keep the alley blind in spite of efforts 
by a number of parties to create some vvay out of it. 

The failure of the Cripps Mission, which provided the 
crucial prelude to the Quit India movement, must be seen 
against this background. For while independence was promised 
after the war, it was to remain circumscribed by and subject to 
the fulfilment of certain conditions, which were found un- 
acceptable by the Congress. These were the underlying 
assumptions of the Cripps plan which represented the farthest 
limits of concessions the British were prepared to make at a 
time when they were passing through the most critical phase of 
the war. Even Cripps woulG not be permitted to enlarge these 
limits. What is, therefore, surprising is not that the Congress 
finally came forward with the Quit India call, but that it waited 
so long — almost three years since the outbreak of the war — 
before it did. 

The Congress has been criticised for adopting the Quit 
India demand in so far as going into the wilderness at a crucial 
juncture meant leaving the Muslim League free to exploit the 
political situation to its own advantage. Rendered plausible 
by the partitition of India, this argument rests on misuse of 
hindsight : it invests the Congress with a choice which it did 
not have during 1939-42. Committed, by 1939, to a definite 
stand on the issue of war, the Congress could scarcely have 
risked its credibility by agreeing to contribute to the war effort 
without a firm assurance of independence after the war and 
immediate transfer of effective power to Indians. And thus the 
British were determined not to concede. 

How important for the Congress was the acceptance of 
its basic conditions before it joined the Allies is indicated by 
the refusal of the CWC to accept Gandhi’s initial advice that 
the Congress should confine itself to extending only moral 
support to Britain, and that it should do so without any condi- 
tions. Since at least 1936, if not 1927 when it had passed a 
resolution against Fascist aggression, the Congress had been 
formulating its position regarding the war issue. It was based 
on a pragmatic appreciation of the possibiiity^to utilise, in the 



event of war, the British need for India’s support to hasten the 
country's march towards independence. Idealism was added to 
pragmatism to advance the argument that only a free country 
could fight enthusiastically for the freedom of others. 

The crucial decision of the Congress to stick to this 
demand was made when the Working Committee issued its 
statement on 15 September 1939, opposing the use of Indian 
men and money for the British war effort without the consent 
of the Indian people, demanding a clarification of the British 
war aims and of the steps to be taken to apply them to India, 
and making India's willingness to cooperate with the war 
effort contingent on a satisfactory British response to this 

After that it was impossible for the Congress to settle for 
something less than an assurance of complete independence 
after the end of the war and transffr of effective power in the 
immediate present. With every failure of negotiations with the 
British, the Congress found itself driven towards a struggle, 
which it was all the time keen to avoid. In 1941 it contented 
itself with individual civil disobedience; but in 1942 it felt 
compelled by the logic of events to opt for a mass struggle. 

Ironically enough, it was Gandhi, after having suggested a 
different line in 1939 and after being largely responsible for res- 
tricting the civil disobedience movement of i941 to selected indivi- 
duals, who now wedded the Congress to mass struggle. What was 
more ironical, the opposition to this move came from Nehru, 
whose line, accepted in 1939, had eventually led to a situation 
where the Congress had no alternative but to court mass 
struggle. Gandhi, of course, did much to accommodate Nehru 
by relating his demand to the British to “Quit India” with the 
victory of the United Nations, and by agreeing to India playing 
her full part in bringing out this victory once her own freedom 
was assured. 

It does appear surprising that the Congress leadership 
failed to draw up a clear programme of action even when it had 
decided to give the call for a mass movement. It betrayed 
almost unbelievable naivety by assuming that while it was 
creating an inflammable situation in the country the Govern- 
ment would be sitting idle. Yet such an assumption alone 
could explain the action of the Congress leadership in not being 



ready with a plan of action, and instead preparing to open a 
correspondence with the Viceroy and with the leaders of the 
United Nations when the Quit India resolution was adopted on 
8 August 1942. It is not surprising that the Qovernment 
decided not to give them an opportunity to do so thereafter. 

While the Congress leaders thus failed to anticipate the 
moves of the Government, the sequel to their arrest showed 
that they had shown remarkable understanding of the mood of 
the Indian people. For there took place now a spontaneous 
uprising in almost every part of the country, though its intensity 
varied from place to place. While it was strong in Bihar, U.P,, 
Maharashtra and Gujarat, it was quite feeble in the Punjab, 
Sind and North-West Frontier Province. In between came 
Assam, Bengal, Orissa, Madras, Central Provinces and Delhi. 
The Princely States were also not untouched. 

The Government earner, forward with the theory that the 
movement developed according to a preplanned Congress 
scheme. Though it published a detailed brochure on the 
subject, the Government failed to prove the charge. Under- 
ground Congress Socialists made a similar assertion, though 
they claimed for themselves the credit for preparing the plan 
according to which the people acted. The fact is that the 
masses acted spontaneously, spurred on by young Congress 
workers and students, even though they acted more or less 
according to a uniform pattern everywhere. 

The first phase of this action — taking out of processions, 
shouting slogans in support of the Congress demand, and 
hoisting of the Congress flag on Government buildings— 
requires no explanation. For this had been the standard 
pattern of mass action in the national struggle. What was new 
and requires explanation is what happened in the next phase — 
attack on Government buildings and means of communication. 
The Congress had not officially asked the people to do so. 
Some persons thought of it on the spur of the moment, but 
the Government thought they were acting according to a plan 
prepared by the Congress. This was emphasized by the 
Government both in India and in Britain and widely publicised 
by the mass media. Thus ironical though it may appear it was 
the Government itself which made people believe that it was 
part of the Congress plan to attack Government buildings and 


means of communications. Such attempts, therefore, spread 
from one part of the country to the other. 

Apart from this new technique of struggle, another 
remarkable feature of the uprising of 1942 was the participation 
in it of various sections of the Indian people. While the 
university students undoubtedly took the lead, young people in 
the countryside also participated in it with great enthusiasm. 
Industrial workers were no less active, and production came to 
a standstill for several days in the leading industrial centres. 
Even more remarkable was the manifestation of symptoms of 
unrest among the subordinate sections of the Indian bureau- 
cracy and the Indian police. Indeed, in several places they 
were found quite sympathetic to the movement, and in most 
places they did not show either promptness or ruthlessness in 
dealing with it, as they had invariably done in the past. The 
infection of hitherto immune se^ctions was duly noted by 
the Government. 

While the mass upsurge in August 1942 was spontaneous, 
the continued, albeit sporadic, attack on communications, 
formation of secret groups of revolutionaries in various parts of 
the country, and their actions in various fields were certainly 
the result of the efforts made by the underground leaders, who 
had formed a Central Directorate to provide guidance to the 
people. The most prominent among them was Jayaprakash 
Narayan, whose escape from prison along with five of his 
comrades became a source of great inspiration to the under- 
ground workers. He prepared a detailed plan of a secret 
organization and began the work of training armed fighters for 
freedom ; but his arrest within a year of his escape prevented 
him from achieving much by way of concrete results. The 
underground leaders who still eluded arrest became beset with 
controversies and dissensions, mainly centred round the 
desirability of the recourse to violent meats. With Gandhi’s 
release in 1944 and his call to the underground workers to come 
into the open and follow the path of non-violence, the under- 
ground resistance movement came to an end, though some 
resisters continued to remain underground till 1945. 

Gandhi himself had not given up the struggle after his 
imprisonment. In the true spirit of a satyagrahi he continued 
bis fight for truth single-handed in prison, althpu^ he felt 



very much handicapped as a result of being isolated from bis 
colleagues. In a class by themselves, his challenge to Linlith- 
gow to either prove the charge ol Congress responsibility for 
the disturbances, or to withdraw it, and his fast for twenty-one 
days at the age of seventy-three did much to sust^n people's 
faith in the righteousness of their cause and in their 
ultimate victory. 

After his release in 1944 on grounds of health, while the 
other leaders were still in prison, Gandhi found himself in a 
quandary. Both physically and mentally shattered, he found 
that the environment of 1942 had completely disappeared and 
there was no question of any struggle being possible in the 
changed circumstances. On the other hand, bis repeated efforts 
to start a dialogue with the Government were disdainfully 
spurned. Though upset, he did not lower the flag and refused 
to either withdraw or disassociate himself from the Quit India 
resolution in utter disregard of the official suggestion that that 
was a necessary condition for the beginning of a dialogue. 

In so doing Gandhi once again had correctly gauged the 
situation. He realized that the fire of suffering and sacrifice 
through which the people had passed in 1942 would not be in 
vain, and the Government would have to start the dialogue 
some day. And so it proved to be when, shortly after the 
surrender of Germany, the leaders of the Congress were released 
from prison and summoned to a conference with the Viceroy at 
Simla, thus beginning the process which led ultimately to the 
achievement of independence in 1947. There is no doubt that 
the Quit India movement had something to do with this 
development. For although it bad failed to achieve its objec- 
tive immediately and had in fact been successfully suppressed 
by the Government, it had shown to the latter the strength of 
Indian nationalism in a way in which nothing else had done in 
the past, The movement was not limited to any one part of 
India, but interspersed over the whole of the country ; its 
intensity and depth varied from place to place. It represented 
the most serious challenge to British rule in India since the 
rebellion of 1857, and this was acknowledged by no less a person 
than the Viceroy himself. For the first time the Government 
realized that the Indian bureaucracy and police, the main 
bastions of its rule, were not as reliable as before, so far as 



their role in keeping the Indian people under British rule was 
ijoncerned. Thus cracks had appeared in the edifice of the 
empire, and even the foundation was shaken. The national 
awakening and the sense of solidari\y and unity shown by the 
non-Congress political parties (except the Muslim League) in 
the posM942 period constituted a warning to the Government, 
which it could not ignore for long. 

The impact abroad was equally significant. The Chinese 
reaction showed that the independence of India was no longer 
a question of exclusive Indo-British concern. It was well on 
the way to emerging as a major issue of world politics. The 
Soviet Union, of course, maintained discreet silence ; but 
this was purely a temporary phase in Soviet foreign policy, 
caused by the compulsions of the war situation. Much, there- 
fore, would hinge on the U.S. attitude towards the Indian 
problem after the war. The exaggerated expectations of the 
Congress leaders from the United States were, of course, not 
fulfilled, and the latter showed no inclination to pressurize 
Britain to accept the Congress demand immediately. But the 
attitude of the U.S. Government as well as the U.S. press left 
no doubt as to what they expected Britain to do after the end 
of the war. Above all, in Britain itself, although there was 
hardly any sympathy for the Quit India movement, enlightened 
opinion, even within the Conservative party, veered more and 
more to the view that the independence of India could not be 
long delayed after the war, whatever the justification for 
denying it so long as the war continued. 

A j:> I :x: 





Statistics connected with Congress 
3Lv/ Decern 

Category Madras Bombay Bengal U.P. Punjab 

1 2 3 4 5 6 

A. Government 
Servants (Excluding 
those of the Central 
Government) i 

(i) Police 


No. of occasions on 
which Police fired : 







No. of Casualties 
inflicted— FATAL : 






No. of Casualties 
inflicted— NON- 






No. of Casualties 
suffered— FATAL : 





No. of Casualties suf- 
fered— NON-FATAL: 






No. of defections 
from Police : 





(ii) Other Govern- 
ment Servants 

No. of attacks on 
other Government 
servants — FATAL : 




No. of attacks on 
other Government 
servants — NON- 






No. of defections 
from other Govern- 
ment services : 







disturbances for the period ending 
her 1943 

Bihar C.P. Assam NWFH Orissa Sind Delhi Coorg Total 
7 8 9 10 II 12 13 14 15 








— 601 
















— 1941 








— 63 








— 2012 








— 216 















Damage to Property 
(Excluding Central 

Government Property) 


No. of Police 

Stations or Outposts 
etc., destroyed or 

severely damaged : 



No. of other Govern- 
ment buildings des- 
troyed or severely 

damaged : 



No. of public build- 
ings otherthan Gover- 
nment bldgs , e.g.. 

Municipal, property, 
Schools, Hospital setc., 
destroyed or severely 

damaged : 



No. of important pri- 
vate buildings des- 
troyed or severely 

damaged : 



Estimated loss to 

Government : Rs. 



Estimated loss to 

other parties : Rs. 



Cases of Sabotage 


No. of Bomb Explo- 

sions ; 



No. of Bombs or 
Explosives discovered 

without damage : 



No. of cases of sabo- 

tage to roads 



No of cases in which 
collective fines impo- 

sed : 



Amount of collective 

fines imposed : Rs 1034359 


No. of sentences of 

whipping inflicted : 



No. of arrests made : 



No. of local authori- 
tiessuperseded under 
Defence Rule 38 B 

Otherwise : 






















































Source : National Arcbivea of India, 




29 4 







41 64 






































2932 37037 6 








































344 595 





























New Delhi. File No. 3/52/43 Poll. (1) 

table II 

Statistics connected with Congress disturbances for the period ending 
3\st December 1943 



public (including 
those to bomb- 
makers etc. them- 
selves) — FATAL 

i^iinibetdf casual- 11 142 

ties caused to the 
public (includiug 
those to bomb- 
makers etc. them- 









•3 2 



8 *0 

0 3 

1 8 





=* ^ 



H 8 


■s S 

i 2 < 

§ I s 'S'S'O 

.IS Z ’iJ ^ ^ ^ 

.S ^ 

s e 

2^5 a 


O .5 

Source : National Archives of India, Home Political File No. 3/52/43. 

Statement showing the number of persons detained during the year 1943 



(a) for month ending 

b) Progressive total 
upto 15th of the 

month 1022^ 10933 11623 12841 13683 12110 16096 16^98 17229 17312 17415 17482 

[c) Undergoing deten- 






Statement connected with the Congress 

3 b/ Decern 

















No. of courts set up 
under the Special 
Criminal Courts Or- 
dinance : 






No. of cases disposed 
of by these courts : 






No. of persons con- 
victed by such 

courts : 






No. of cases disposed 
of by ordinary courts: 







No, of cases disposed 
of by military courts : 


No. of persons con- 
victed by ordinary 
cour ts .* 







No. of persons con- 
victed by military 
courts ; 


Total number of 
death sentences 
imposed : 



No. of death senten- 
ces confirmed : 






Source : National Archives of India, 


disturbances for the period ending 
ber 1943 




NWFP Orissa 




Ajmer Total 









16 17 






- 797 






* 2 



— 10690 









- 26402 










- 14987 










33 23358 









— 313 




— - 




— 67 








— 41 

Home Political File No. 3/52/43. 




3 1ST DECEMBER 1943 

Central Departments 

A. Railway : 

1. Number of attacks on employees — FATAL: 8 

2. Number of attacks on employees— NON-FATAL : 43 

3. Number of passengers killed in accidents whose 

cause was connected with the movement : 43 

4. Number of passengers injured in accidents whose 

cause was connected wifn the movement : 213 

5. Number of Railway Stations destroyed or severely 

damaged : 332 

6. Number of cases of serious damage to tracks since 

1st October 1942 ; ♦* 411 

7. Number of cases of serious damage to rolling 

stock : 268 

8. Number of derailments or other accidents resulting 

from sabotage ; 66 

9. Estimated loss to Railway property : Rs. 52,00,000 

10. Number of defections in Railway servants : (Not known 

but believed 
to be oil.) 

♦* “Damage to track” was so widespread before 1st 
October 1942 and varied so greatly in extent, that it 
is impossible to give detailed figures. The cost of 
such damage was, however, approximately Rs. 9 lakhs, 
compared to which the damage done in the cases 
recorded since 1st October 1942 is almost negligible. 

Source : National Archives of India, Home Political File 
No. 3/52/43. 



B. P. and T. Department : 

1. Number of attacks on employees — 

2. Number of attacks on employees — NON- 

3. Number of P. and T. offices, sub-offices, 
etc., destroyed or severely damaged ; 

4. Number of cases of destruction or serious 
damage to other property (telegraphs 
and telephones) ; 

5. Estimated loss to P. and T. property : Rs. 

6 Number of defections in P. and T. 

servants : , 

C. Other Central Departments 

1. Number of attacks on employees — 

2. Number of attacks on employees — NON- 

3. Number of cases of destruction or severe 
damage to Government property : 

4. Estimated loss to Gbvernment property : Rs. 

5. Number of defections in Government 
servants : 




3 , 37,561 








D. Military 


Number of occasions on which military 

fired : 



Number of casualities inflicted— FATAL: 



Number of casualities inflicted — NON- 




Number of casualities suffered — FATAL: 



Number of casualities suffered — NON- 

FAT A L : 



Number of defections from personnel : 



Number of cases in which military 
property or installations were destroyed 

or severely damaged : 



Estimated loss ; ^ 

Rs. 20,610 


Number of occasions of firing from air : 





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, Last Battle for Freedom (Calcutta, 1945) 

, Problem of Freedom (Calcutta, 1945). 

, National Government or People\s Government ? (Bombay,^ 


Ruiker, R.S., India in Revolt (Nagpur, 1946). 

Rusch, Thomas, A., Role of the Congress Socialist Party in the 
Indian National Congress 1931-42 (Thesis, University of 
Chicago, 1955). 

Sarin, Studies of Indian Leaders (Delhi, 1963). 

Satyapal and Prabodh Chandra, Sixty Years of Congress 
(Lahore, 1946). 

Sen, Dhirendra Nath, Revolution by Consent (Calcutta, 1947). 

, From Raj to Swaraj (Calcutta, 1954). 

Seth, Hiralal, India between the Two Wars (Lahore, 1943). 

, ^Quit India' Re-examined (Lahore, 1943). 

, The Red Fugitive (Lahore, 1946), edn 3, revised by 

Jagat S. Bright. 

Sharad, Onkar, Lohia (Delhi, 1912)— A biography of Ram- 
manohar Lohia. 

jSharma, Jagdish Saran, A,I.C,C. Circulars : A Descriptive 
Bibliography (New Delhi, 1956). 

— , Indian National Congress : A descriptive bibliography 
(New Delhi, 1959). 

— , India's Struggle for Freedom (New Delhi, 1962), 3 



Sherwood, Robert E., Roosevelt and Hopkins (New York, 1950), 
2 volumes. 

SJiridharani, Krishnalal Jethalal, Warning to the West (New 
York, 1942). 

— , War Without Violence {London, 1939). 

Singh, Darbara, Indian Struggle, 7942 (Lahore, 1944). 

Singh, Harnam, The Indian National Movement and American 
Opinion (Delhi, 1962). 

Sinha, L.P., The Left Wing in India, 1919 1947 (Muzaffarpur, 

Sitaramayya, B. Pattabhi, History of the Indian National Congress 
(New Delhi, 1947), 2 volumes. 

, The Nationalist Movement in India (Bombay, 1 950). 

, Some Fundamentals of the Indian Problem (Bombay, 


Smith, W.C., The Muslim League 1942-1945 (Lahore, 1945). 

Sondhi, G.C., ed., Congress Souvenir, Ramgarh, 1940 (Calcutta, 

" 1940). 

Stalin, Joseph, The Great Patriotic War of the Soviet Union 
(New York, 1945). 

Strauss, Patrica, Cripps, Advocate Extraordinary (New York, 

Symes, Lillian, Indians Revolution, Its Challenge and Meaning 
(New York, 1942). 

Tagore, Soumyendranath, Revolution and Quit India (Calcutta, 

Tendulkar, A.G., Nation betrayed! A Case Against Communists: 
their own evidence (Bombay, 1945). 

Tendulkar, D.G., Mahatma 1940-45 (Bombay, 1953), 6 volumes. 

Vardhan, H.A., The August Struggle and Its Significance 
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Varma V.P., ed.. Verdict on India Analysed (Lahore, 1945). 

Vidyarthi, Ram Sharan, British Savagery in India (Agra, 1946). 

Wall, Ethel G., American Influence in the Achievement of India's 
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Watson, Sir Alfred Henry, If Britain Quit India ? (London, 

Williams, Francis, A Prime Minister Remembers : The War and 
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Willkie, Wendell L., One World (Bombay, 1943), Indian edn. 

Woodward, (Sit) Llewellyn, British Foreign Policy in the Second 
World (London, 1952). 

Zaidi, A- Moin, The Way Out to Freedom, An Enquiry into 
the Quit India Movement Conducted by Participants (New 
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Articles in Periodicals 

Anand, Mulkraj, “Situation in India”, Fortnightly (New York), 
vol. 157, June 1942, p. 443* 

AngelJ, Norman, “British View on India”, Nation (New York), 
vol. 155, 29 August 1942, p. 172. 

Dev, Acharya Narendra, “The Indian National Congress and 
Socialism”, Janata (Bombay), vol. 10, no. 6, 27 February 
1955, pp. 8-10. 

Fells, HJ., “Indian Retrospect and Prospect”, Asiatic Review^ 
(London), vol. 39, October 1943, p. 395. 

Fischer, Louis, “Gandhi’s rejected oflfer”, Nationy vol. 155, 
22 August 1942, pp. 145-7. 

, “Why Cripps failed T\ Nationy vol. 155, 19 September 

1942 and 26 September 1942, pp. 230, 255. 

Howard, H.P., “Basic Problem of India”, Commonwealth 
(London), vol. 36, 28 August 1942, p. 439. 

Majumdar, H.T., “America’s Contribution to India’s Freedom , 
Indian Review (Madras), vol, 58 (a), September 1957, 
pp. 389-90. 

Martin, Kingsley, “Talking of India”, Nation, vol. 155, 21 
November 1942, p. 538. 

Mathews, Basil, “Worldwide reaction to events in India 
Asiatic RevieWy vol. 36, p. 251. 

Mitchell, Kate Louise, “India and the War”, Amerasia (New 
York), May 1942. 

Malson, Hugh, “Cripps Mission to India”, Nineteenth Century 
(London), vol. 131, June 1942, p. 255. 

Moore, Arthur, “Plea for India”, Fortnightly, vol. 155, June 
1941, p. 537. - 

Neliru, J.L., “India’s Day of Reckoning”, Fortune (New York), 

vol. 25, April 1942, p. 67. , 

^ “India’s demand and England’s answer , Atlantic 

Monthly (Boston), vol. 165, April 1940, p. 449. 



Philip, P.O., “Gandhi explains Go home Call”, Christian 
Century (Chicago), vol. 60, 5 September 1943, pp. 1020-1. 

Rao, B. Shiva, “Vicious Circle in India”, Foreign Affairs (New 
York), vol. 19, July 1941, p. 842. 

, “President Roosevelt and India”, The Hindu (Madras), 

1 February 1963, p. 6. 

, “The Opportunity that Nehru missed”, Sunday States- 
man (New Delhi), 1 November 1970. 

Snow, Edgar, “Must Britain give up India”, Saturday Evening 
Post (London), vol. 215, 12 September 1942, p. 9. 

Spear, Thomas George Percival, “From Colonial to Sovereign 
Status : Some problems of Nationalism with special 
reference to India”, Journal of Asian Studies (Quezon City), 
vol. 17, August 1958, pp. 567-77. 

Spry, Graham, “A British rgply to Louis Fischer”, Nation, 
vol. 155, 14 November 1944, p 501. 

* Venkataramani, M.S. and B.K. Shrivastava, “The United States 
and the Cripps Mission”, India Quarterly (New Delhi). 
July-September 1963, pp. 214-65. 

, “The United States and the ‘Quit India’ Demand”, 

India Quarterly, April-June, 1964, pp. 101-39. 

, “America and the Indian Political Crisis July-August 

1942,” International Studies (Bombay), vol. 6, no. 1, July 
1964, pp. 1-48. 

, “The President and the Mahatma, America’s Response 

to Gandhi’s Fast, February-March \ 9 AT’ , International Review 
of Social History\ol. 13, pt. 2, (Amsterdam, 1968). 


A.B.C. of Dislocation, 112, 114 
Abyssinia, fascist aggression, and 
Congress attitude, 3 
Aiycr, C P. Ramaswami, 185 
Ali, Aruna Asaf, 42. 45,86,118, 
J35, 142 
Ali, Sadiq, 134 

All Fighters For Freedom, 112, 116 
All-India Indemnity legislation, 

All-India Radio. 97 
All-India Muslims, 24 
All India Saiyagralia Council, aim 
of, 137 ; confusion among the 
leaders, 137-138 ; formation of, 
136; programme of, 138 
All India Satyagraha Council — What 
We stand for, 1.^8 

Amery, L.S , 9.23,34,58. 89,93, 
148, 151, 154, 193, 199 
Andhra Provincial Congress Com- 
mittee, 88, 90 ; six-stage pro- 
gramme of, 53 
Aney, M.S., 154, 159, 186 
Anup Singh, 202 

Armed Forces (Special Powers) 
Ordinance, 1942, 95-96 
Assam, disturbances in, 76-77 ; 

underground movement in, 131 
Associated Press of India, 97 
Asthana, Chandra Sekhar, 129, 130 
Attlee, Clement, 165 
August Rebellion Day, 136 
Axis Powers, Viceroy's declaration 
of war against, 3-4 
Aza^ Abul Kalam, 13. 19, 20. 36. 
42. 45, 55 

Azad Dastas, 21 ; activities of, 114- 

A/ad Government of the guerillas 
in Ahmedabad, functioning of, 


Azad Sena, aim of, 123 

Baba Raghav Das of Gorakhpur, 
129, 136 

Bagliiy undergiound resisters paper, 

Baltimore Sun, 196 
Bansras Mindu University, role ofif 
85-8o, 87, 1 U 

Bengal, disluibances in, 15’l(y\ 
underground movement in, 127- 

Bengal Provincial Congress Com- 
iiutlee, report on guerillas, 129- 

Berry, Lampten, 44 
Bihar, underground resistance 
movement in, 117-124; situation 
in, 69-70 

Birla, G,D.,roleof, 81, 159 
Bombay, insurgency in, 124-126; 
underground movenaent in, 126- 

Bomb explosions, total number of, 

Bombs and hand-grenades, manu- 
facturing of, 124 
Bose, Subhas Chandra, 6 
Brahmachari, Parath, 118 
British Council of Churches, 215 
British Indian administration, up- 
set of, 39 
Buck, Pearl, 102 
Buksb. Allah, 185 
Burma, happenings in, 23 



Campbell, R , 191 Congress leaders, arrest of, 65-66 

Candy, Dr. R.H., 167, 170 Conjures!: Respcmsthility for the Dis- 

Central Daily Nev/s, comment on turhances 1942-43, 202 ; twelve 

the Indian political situation, 

Central Directorate of AICC, blue- 
print of, I05-10h ; functions of, 

Charkha^ 6 

Chaturvedi, Sambhu Nath. 131 
Chaube, Suraj Nath, 118 
Chaube, Suraj Narain, 123 
Chaudhary, Ananda Prasad, 137, 

Chavan. Y.B., 127 
Chicago Daily News, comment on 
Gandhi's fast, 165 ; comment on 
Quit India Resolution, 198 
Chicago Radio and Telephone^ 
Company, assistance aid by, 106- 

Chiang, Madam, 25, 192 
Chiang Kai-shek, role of, 25, 26, 
44, 190-195, 201, 204, 205 
Chicago Sun, comment on Gandhi’s 
fast, 165 

China, Japanese attack on, Gandhi’s 
views on, 50-51 

Civil disobedience movement, 2, 7 ; 
reasons for not launching of, 

Christian Science Monitor, 196 ; 

comment on Gandhi’s fast, 165 
Chotalal, Pravin Chandra, 127 
Churchill, Winston, 25, 31, 153, 
160, 161, 169, 178, 182, 191 
Civic Guard, Nationalist opinion on, 

Civil and Military Gazette, 184 
Clapper, Raymond, 200 
Collective Fines Ordinance, lOl 
Communal unity, common solution 
to the question of, 173 
Communist Party of Great Britain, 
215 ; telegraphic message to the 
Viceroy to release Gandhi, 156. 

Communist Party of India, 6, 156 

point programme of, 87 
Congress Socialist Party, 6, 92, 122, 
123, 130, 132, 133 ; cooperation 
with the Revolutionary Socialist 
Party, 128 ; and the right wing 
leaders, differences between, 

Congress-Muslim League conflict, 
8. 25-28, 39 ; need for settlement 
between, 179 

Conservative Party, altitude to- 
wards the movement, 217-218, 

Crucial for International Recog- 
nition of Indian Indcpenden cc, 

Cranbornc, Viscount, 59 
Criminal Procedure Code. 95 
Cripps, Stafford, 27, 41, 183 
Cripps’ Defence Formula, 34 
Cripps Mission, failure of, 27-32, 
34, 38, 92, 143, 196, 220 
Cripps-Johnson Formula, 29 
Czechoslovakia, Nazi annexation of, 
1,3; Congress attitude 3 

Dacca, disturbances in, 76 
Daily Herald, comment on the anti- 
India movement, 213-214 
Dalai, A R., 83 

'‘Dashhaiwadi Dal” in Kundal 
(Andhra State), 126 
Dawn, comment on quit India reso- 
lution, 48-49 

Defence of India Ordinance, 3 
Defence of India Rules, 13, 61, 95, 
97, 120 

Delhi, underground movement in, 
130-131 ; disturbances in, 75 
Democracy, Congress support for, 

Demolitions Field Engineering 
Pamphlet, 112 
Desai, Bhulabhai, 18, 35, 42 



Desai. Mahadev,65, 68, 175, 176 
"'Destructive Party”, formation of, 

Dhotre, R.S., 137 

Disturbances, regular feature of 
95-96 ; spread of, 67-69 ; press 
reaction, 97 ; see also quit India 

Diwakar, R.R., 137, 139 
Dominion status, 7 

East, British fortunes in, 21 
Eastern coastal areas of India, fall 
of Japanese bombs on, 22 
Economic boycott. Congress call 
for, 82 

Economic infrastructure, 24 
Economic slavery, linkage of, 106 
Emergency Powers Ordinance (1940) 
6I-62 ; Government’s challenge 
to the title of, 17 
Emigration problem, 23 
Evacuation scheme, 22 

Famine situation, 24 
Far East, Japan’s position m, 19 
Fascism, Congress criticism against, 

Federation of Indian Chambers of 
Commerce and Industry, referred, 

Fischer, Louis, 202 
Food prices, rise of, 24 
Forward Bloc, 48, 92 ; support to 
the programme of Socialist 
Congress Party, 105 

Gairola, Dr. Kaushalya Nand, 85, 
105, 131 

Gandhi, Devadas. 150 
Gandhi, Kasturba. death of, 175 
Gandhi, Mihatma, and Abul Kalam 
Azad, differences between, 46 ; 
nidress to the All-India Congress 
Committee, 64 ; appeal to the 
United Nations and Britain to 
declare India free, 55 ; arrest of, 
65 ; on baffling situation of 

India, 8 ; decision to abandon 
the idea of Satyagraha, 9 ; 
demand for release of, 188-189 ; 
differences with Congress 
leaders, 19-20 ; Jinnah differences, 
49 ; letter to Chiang Kai-shek, 
51 ; letter to Viceroy, 145-146; 
meeting with Viceroy, 4 ; nego- 
tiations with Jinnah, 180 ; Nehru 
differences, 45-46 ; 1942 draft 
resolution, 41-42 ; non-violence 
of, 9-10 ; open letter to the 
Japanese, 50 ; reasons for his 
arrest, 89 ; release from jail, 
175-176, 224 ; .yee also Gandhi’s 

Gandhi Yatra, programme of, 137 
Gandhian strategy, logic of, 8 
' Gandhian tactics. Subhash Chandra 
Bose, sceptical about, 6 • 

Gandhi’s fast, 134, 135 ; American 
public opinion and press reaction 
165-166 ; Churchill views on, 
169-170 ; Dar R.H. Candy’s 
medical report on, 167 ; debate 
in the Central Legislative Assem- 
bly, 157-159 ; differences among 
the Indian Executive Councillors, 
159-160 ; eminent leaders’ appeal, 
160 ; Government attitude, 148- 
152, 166-167 : medical report on, 
167; M.N. Roy on, 157 
Gandhi’s Individual Saiyagraha 
movement, 17 ; failure of, 17-19 

Gandhism, 8 

Garam Dal (Violence Party), 129 

Geldcr, Stuart, 177 

Germany and Britain, war between, 

1 ; surrender of, 181 
Ghosh, Prafulia, 20 
Gilder. Dr. M.D.D., 166 
Oobind Singh, 119 
Gopal Mills, closure of, 68 
Gope, Mahendra, 123 
Gore, N.G..127 
Gregg, Richard, 202 
Greenwood, Arthur, 160 



Guerilla leaders, role of, 123 
Guerilla training school, opening 
of, 117 ; in Nepal, 121 
Guerilla warfare, 105 ; end of, 123, 
growth in the intensity of, 118 
Guerillas, Bihar police report on, 
122 ; working of, 119-120 
Guruji, Anna, 127 

Halifax, Lord, 164, 201, 204, 208 
Hallet, M. 52, 58, on collection of 
collective fines, 100 
Hanumannagar incident, 121 
Harijan, 97 ; articles on quit India 
theme, 40 
Harris, Percy, 160 
Harrison. Agatha, 179 
Hartals, 54, m support of Gandhi’s 
fast, 155 

Hindu Mahasabha. 49, 156,189; 
attitude towards Rajaji formula, 
179; Comment on Churchill’s 
statement. 184-185 

Hindu-Muslim conflict, L.S. Amery 
on, 9 

Hindu-Muslim unity, 6 ; Gandhi’s 
constant exhortation on, 39 
Hindustan Red Army, 105 
Hindustan Socialist Republican 
Army, 86 

Homes-Smith, J., 202 
Hope, A., 58 
Hull, Cordell, 162, 204 

Iftikharuddin, Mian, 37 
Imperialism, Congress criticism of, 

Imperialist war. Congress opposition 
for the participation in, 2 
Independent India, comment on quit 
India resolution, 49 
India Conciliation Group, 215 
India League, 202, 215 
Indian community in Uganda, 59 
Indian Criminal Law Amendment 
Act, 1908, 66. 120, 129 
Indian evacuees, sudden thrust of, 

Indian National Army, formation of 

Indian National Congress, 1 ; Bar- 
doli meet, 19; Bardoli Resolution, 
20 : Bombay session, 55-56 ; 
Churchill’s fulminations against, 
12, 84 ; differences among 

leaders, 45 ; disapproval of 
Rajaji’s plan, 37 ; instructions to 
provincial and district commit- 
tees to prepare for the movement, 
52-53 ; interest in international 
issues, 2 ; Lucknow session, 2 ; 
mini-revolt in, 9 ; policies on 
war, 2 ; Poona Resolution. 20 ; 
prestige among the masses, 189 , 
Ramgarh session, 7 ; resolution 
on evacuated persons, 47 ; reso- 
lution on the happenings in 
Burma, 23 ; and war crisis, 3-5 ; 
Wardha session, 45 
Indian parties, rivalry among, 9 
India’s defence, cracking up of, 55 
India’s political situation, 21 
India’s problem, US attitude, 26-27 ; 
44 ; Viceroy on, 7 

India’s war production, impact of 
strikes on, 82-84 ; see also 

Industrial centres, role of, 81-82, 

Industrial labour, impact of 
Gandhi’s fast, 155 
Industrial production, disruption of, 

Institute of Pacific Relations, 202 
Instru ctions — Sabotage and Commu- 
nications, 112, 115 

Jail population, growth and total 
number of Satyagrahis, 1 8 
Jallianwalla Bagh, 1 
Jayakar, M.R., 184 
Jhaveri, Chandrakant Babdohai, 

Jinnah. M.A., 4.25, 156, 173 
Johnson, Colonel Louis, 29 
Joshi, S.M., 126 



Kachare, Bapu, 127 
Kachru. Dwarkanath, 136 
Kamath, Sriranga, 127 
Katju, K.N.» 190 
Keskar, Bal Krishna, 105 
Kirchner, BJ„ 97 
Krantikari • (Revolutionary organ). 

Kripalani, J.B., 20, 37. 42 
Kripalani, Sucheta, 104, I34, li6, 
137. 139 

Krishna Singh, 1 19 
Kunzrti, H.N., 49 

Labour Party, attitude towards the 
Quit India movement, 216-217 
Laithwaite, J.G , 160 
Laski, Harold, 216 
Lawrence, Pethic, 215 
Legal and relief committees, forma- 
tion of, 189 

Linlithgow, 31, 34, 56, 57, 58. 60, 64, 
83,86,90,94,147,148,153, 159, 
167, 170, 194, 207 

Lohia, Rammanohar, 104, 106, 121, 
127, 135, 139 

Lumbi, Roger, 58, 150, 151, 158, 

Madras, disturbances in, 74 
Madras Legislative Congress Party, 
resolution of, 36 
Mahmud, Syed, 45 
Maintenance and Restoration of 
Order (Indemnity), Act, 1943, 

Majumdar, H.T., 202 
Malaviya, K.D., 105, 108, 131 
Manchester Guardian, comment on 
Gandhi’s fast. 161 ; comment on 
the Wardha resolution, 212 
Martial Law, imposition of, 101 
Mass uprising, feature of, 222-223 
Ma^f^, Nagindas T,, 139 
Master, Pandu, 127 
Maxwell, Reginald, 107, 151, 173 ; 
on attitude towards police ex^ 
cesses. 102 

Meera Ben, 65 

Mcharally. Yusuf, 52 

Mehta, Asoka, 105 

Mehta, Dinshaw. 167 

Mehta, Usha. 107 

Melman, S., 210 

Menon, V.K.K.,215 

Migration of labour, effect of. 22 

Mishra, Rajaram Nandan, 105 

Missir, BirinchJ, 123 

Mody, Homi, 86, 154, 159 

Moonje, B S., 37, 10] 

Municipal board elections. Congress 
victory in, 189 

Muslim Independence Day, 9 
Muslim League, 6, 176, 220; 

demands of, 3:)-36 ; political ob- 
jectives of, 8 

Naidu, Sarojini, 65, 192 * 

Narayan, Jayaprakash, 89. 122, 132, 

National Council of Civil Liberty, 

National Defence Council, lOln, 

National government, desirability 
of the formation of, 188; Jinnah’s 
refusal to cooperate with the 
Congress, 35 

National Liberal Federation, atti- 
tude towards Rajaji Formula, 

National Peace Council. 215 
Nayar, Dr. Sushila, 65, 167, 170 
Nazism, Congress attitude towards, 

Nehru, Jawaharlal, 2, 9, 36, 41, 42, 
45, 52, 55, 141,211 
Nepal, a base for guerillas, 119-120 
New Republic, comment on Gandhi’s 
fast, 199 

New Statesman and Nation, comment 
on Gandhi’s fast, 161 
New York Herald Tribune, 1$8; 

comment on Candhi*s fast, 165 
New York iVor id Telegram, 178 
Nihlett, R,H., 100 

260 the quit INDIA MOVEMENT 

N/nz/j Auffiist (underground paper), 
analysis on the situation of 1942, 
89, 126 

Non-coopention movement, 135 
Non-embarrassment, principle of, 


Nrn-Party Leaders Conference, 35n, 
135, 160, 172 

Non-violenc principle of, 9 
Noon, Feroze Khan, 34, 152 

Orient Press of India, 97 
Orissa, disturbances in, 77, 78 ; 
underground movement in, 131 

Pacific War Council, 193 
Pakistan, demand for Rajaji’s 

speech on, 35-36 ; Muslim 

League’s demand for, 8, 36 
Palestine, fascist aggression. Cong- 
ress attitude, 3 
Pandit, Vijayalakshmi, l92 
Pant, G.H ,45 
Pardeshi, Ramlal, 127 
Patel, Dahayabhai, 106 
Patel, Vallabhbhai, 20, 37,52, 55, 

Patil, Nana, 125 
Patil, Vasant ' andu, 127 
Patri Sarkar, in Satara. establish- 
ment of, 125-126 

Palvardhan, Achyut, 88, 104, 126, 
136. P9, 142 

Peace, Congress altitude towards, 

Pearl Harbour, attack on, 19 
Penalties (Enhancement) Ordinance, 
1942, 95 

Phillips, William,. 162, 204, 205, 206, 
207, 208 

Political democratization, 176 
Poona Capital Cinema Bombay 
case, investigation of, Il2n 
Prasad, Rajendra, 4, 20, 41, 65, 89 
Pravda, comment on Quit India 
Resolution, 210 

Press Association of India, memo- 
randum to Government, 98 

Press control, memorandum on, 16- 

Punjab, disturbances in, 78 
Puma Swarai (Complete Indepen- 
dence', demand foi^ 7 
Pyarelal, 66 

Quit India movement, Am.rican 
press and public opinion, 196- 
209 ; analysis of, 79-87 ; attitude 
of the British parliament, 216- 
217; British missionaries and 
leftist intellectuals support, 216 ; 
business community’s role. 82 ; 
causes for the suppression of, 
89 ; Chinese and American reac- 
tions, 50-51 ; Chinese press reac- 
tion, 195 : data on the firings 
and killings, 94-95; dimensions 
of, 144 ; features of, 8!*82, 103 ; 
Hallet’s description of, 94 : im- 
pact abroad. 190-194, 225 ; 
impressions on the Indian mem- 
bers of the various services, 
including police, 186’188 ; Indian 
press reaction, 48-49 ; loss of 
property, 81 ; mass upsurge, 67- 
70, 220 : on Gandhian lines, 54 ; 
organisation preparations of, 52- 
54 ; Ordinances of, 95 ; press re- 
action, 97; Resolution on, 141- 
142 ; support of, 141 ; Soviet 
interest in, 209-211 ; spread of, 
67-79 ; students’ role in, 84-87 ; 
three stages of, 62 

“Quit India” Resolution, 47, 54, 55, 
61, 62, 64. 177, 180 ; British 
paper comment on, 21L2I5; 
Congress decision of, 54-56 ; 
Lord Waveirs appeal to eschew 
from, 174-175 ; 1942 Draft Reso- 
lution, Congress leaders opinion 
on, 42 ; see also Wardha Reso- 
lution ^ 

Raganganda, Bapu Saheb, 127 
Railways, destruction of, 79-80 



Raiagopalachan, C., 18, 35, 37, 51, 

Rajagopalachari formula, 179-180 ; 

reaction towards, 36-37 
Rajan, T.S.,38, 51 
Rajbhoj, P.N., 49 
Ramachandran, G., 137 
Ramanaihan, 5, 3», 51 
Rashtra Seva Dal, ban on, 127 
Rebel administration, setting up of, 

Roosevelt, Franklin, D., 26, 190, 
193, 201, 203, 204, 207 
Revolutionary Movement Ordinance, 
16 ; clauses of, 17 
Rowlatt Acts, 1 
Roy. Dr. B.C,157, 167 

Sambamurthy, B., 38 
Santhanam, K., 51 

Sapru, Tej Bahadur, 34, 52, 172, 184, 

Sarkar, N.R., 154, 159, 186 
Satyagrah prisoners, treatment with, 

Satyamurti, 5, 18, 35 
Saurashtra, spread of Quit India 
movement in, 79 
Saw, U., 59 

Secret Congress Corps, organization 
of, 105 

Second World War, outbreak of, 1 
Servants of India Society, 189 
Setalvad, Chimanlal, 49, 184, 189 
Sharraa, Chumlal, 131 
Sheng Shohhua, 192 
Singh, Ambika, 131 
Singh, JJ., 202 
Singh, Jogendra, 154 
Singh, Ram Bahadur, 1 19 
Singh, Parsuram, 118 
Singh, Siaram, 118, 123 
Siii|h, Shyamnandan, 123 
Sinha, Badri Narain, 123 
Sinha, Priyaranjan Prasad, 131 
“Sinn, Fein” movement in Ireland, 


Smuts, Fierd Marshal. 166, 169 
Society of Friends, 215 
Sonar, Gulali, 123 
Sorensen, Reginald, 215 
South East Asia, British policy in, 
21 ; embariassment to the British 
33 ; war situation in. 33 
Spam, fascist aggression, Congress 
attitude, 3 

Special Criminal Courts, Ordinance, 

Standing Committee of the All 
India Newspapers Editors’ Con- 
ference, 97 
Stalin, 211 

Stewart, T., on Bihar situation, 69 
Strike, call for, 106 ; features of, 

Student community, role of, 53, 75, 
77, 84-87, 93 
Sukul, Jogendra, 118 
Swami Nath, Dr., 129 
Swaraj, 13 : four pillars of, 6 
Swaraj Panchiyats, formation of, 

Ta-King Pao, comment on the- 
Indian political situation, 195 
Tata factories, strike in, 83-84 
Textile Labour Association, 53 
Tendulkar, 66 

Thakurdas, Purshottam, 159 
Times, comment on the Wardha 
resolution, 211-212 
Times of India, comment on Quit 
India resolution, 48 
Treaty of Alliance, 55 
Tricumdas, Purshottam, 107 
Twynam, H., 58 

Underground cells, establishment of, 

Underground leaders, arrest of, 131; 
role of, 88-89 

Underground resistance movement^ 
activities of, 104-111 ; in Assam, 
131; in Bengal, 127-130:10 
Bombay, 125-127 ; in Delhi. 130- 



131 ; failure of. 1 13-114 ; finan- 
cial aid to, 124 ; J.P.’s role of, 
lli-117 ; JP’s jail dairy on, 140- 
141 ; Satara’s contribution to, 
125; setback to, 127; split of, 
135-137; spread of, 117-124, 126- 
127 ; in U.P., 130-131 
Underground radio station, estab- 
lishment of. 106 

Underground workers, rift among. 
Ml * 

UN. 56, 161, 190, 192 
United Press of India, 97 
Untouchability, removal of, 6 
UP. mass upsurge m, 70-72 ; under- 
ground movement in, 130-131 
U.P. Congress Committee, 54 


Verma. Baldeo Narain, 137 
Violence, on ihe Karnatak pattern, 

1 15 ; Views on, 112 1 13n 
Violent methods, controversy regar- 
ding the use of, 116-1 17 
Voluntary organizations of all the 
parties. 13 

War, Gandhi’s refusal to participate 
in, 19 ; Congress Working Com- 
mittee resolution oq, 20n ; im- 
pact on economic front, 24 
War Cabinet, memorandum to, 27 ; 

wilhdrawal of proposals, 33n 
War Committees, Nationalist opi- 
nion on, 13 

War crisis, Congress and, 3-5 
‘‘War Council U P. Congress”, 
seizure of, 109 

Wardha resolution, 49, 51, 196 ; see 
also Quit India Resolution 
Washington Post^ 197 
Washington Star, 198 
Wavell,Lord, 174 

“White Paper” on Congress Respon- 
sibility for the Disturbances 
1942-43, 171 

Willkie, Wendell, L ,202 
Women's International League, 215 
World Federation Defence Forces, 

World Federation of Free Nations, 
idea of formation of, 55